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Understanding Dermatology and Skin Care

Dermatologists treat diseases of the skin, nails, and mucous membranes. Their specialty might seem elementary compared to cardiologists or pulmonologists, but dermatology and skin care is essential to health care. Whether you’re looking to buy products safe for your sensitive skin or seeking treatment for a disease like psoriasis, it’s essential to understand dermatology basics and your insurance options.

What is Dermatology?

Dermatologists are medical doctors who specialize in dermatology, skin care, hair, and nails. They treat various conditions, from minor irritations to deadly skin cancers. They work with patients of all ages, from babies to seniors. During their education, dermatologists learn to identify skin issues that could be early warning signs of other health problems. For example, patients with red, elevated, flaky skin patches on their elbows, scalp, or knees may have psoriasis. Dermatologists also are trained to perform specialized surgical procedures.

Why Go to a Dermatologist?

As the body’s largest organ, the skin takes a lot of hits. It protects us from germs, repels water, and covers our blood vessels, nerves, and internal organs. For that reason, it’s essential to take care of it. People often visit dermatologists when over-the-counter products don’t help them with acne or if they notice changes in their skin, like new moles or warts. These aren’t just cosmetic concerns; they can be signs of severe health problems like diabetes and heart disease. Dermatologists are also trained to identify skin issues that could be a precursor to underlying conditions, such as rosacea and plaque psoriasis. These doctors can also perform surgical procedures, including Mohs surgery, to remove skin cancer or benign cysts. Additionally, they can treat a variety of hair- and nail-based conditions.

Common Skin Conditions

Many skin conditions are chronic, but you can learn to manage them. Over-the-counter remedies and cosmetic treatments can help with some problems. Other problems, such as rosacea or psoriasis, can’t be cured, but you can relieve symptoms. Skin conditions can vary in severity and length depending on environmental and health conditions. You can also take steps to prevent some skin disorders, such as avoiding sharing personal items with people who have an infection and washing your hands frequently. Hives (urticaria) are itchy, raised welts that may be dark or lighter than your natural skin color. An allergy usually triggers them. Melasma is a condition that causes dark patches to appear on the face and sometimes other parts of the body, especially in pregnant women or those with darker skin tones.

Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is when skin cells grow uncontrollably and form a malignant tumor that could spread to other body parts. It’s a serious issue that needs immediate attention since it could lead to death if not treated early. A dermatologist is a specialist who can diagnose and treat such tumors. They will conduct a physical examination and use a unique tool to extract a small sample of the affected skin for further analysis under a microscope. Basal and squamous cell carcinoma are the two most common types of nonmelanoma skin cancer that usually manifest in the epidermis, the topmost layer of the skin. Meanwhile, melanoma is a more demanding form of skin cancer that arises from melanocyte cells, which produce the pigment responsible for skin coloration.

Skin Care Routines

Developing a skincare routine adequate for your specific needs is a learning curve. Fortunately, dermatologists can help you find a plan for your skin type and concerns. For example, if you have oily skin, your dermatologist will likely recommend using a gentle cleanser with ingredients like salicylic acid or glycolic acid to help regulate oil production. They may also suggest using a toner or astringent to remove excess oil after cleansing. If you have a specific skin issue, prepare by writing down any over-the-counter or prescription medications you’re currently taking and any symptoms or conditions you’re experiencing. This will give your dermatologist a complete picture of your current health, which can make a difference when creating a plan moving forward.