Dermatology series: When to visit a skin expert
While most people wouldn't think twice about going to the doctor if they had a health concern, visiting a dermatologist isn't as popular. Many view it as an unnecessary extravagance, almost as if worrying about your skin is something to be embarrassed about.
Part of the problem is the lack of knowledge surrounding these medical professionals. It's easy to assume that only A-list stars on the hunt for the latest chemical peel have dermatologists on their speed dials, but that couldn't be further from the truth.
"If you have any significant problem with your skin, then a dermatologist is the medical expert you need to see. Dermatologists are the only doctors that have specialist training in the diagnosis and management of conditions affecting the skin, hair and nails. No other doctor will have the same expertise, regardless of what they may tell you," Dr Anjali Mahto of Cedars Dermatology explained to Cover Media.
Dermatologists also treat a wide variety of issues, from diseases like skin cancer or acne to wrinkles and acne scarring. In fact there are many different issues which could need a consultation, which is what we're going to investigate in this new series.
So first up: how to know when your usual doctor will do and when you need the specialist.
"Patients should visit a dermatologist for any skin, hair and nail complaint," Dr Anand Patel, Consultant Dermatologist and Dermatological Surgeon at BMI Park Hospital in Nottingham, explained simply.
"Dermatology is broken into two main areas: surgical dermatology and non-surgical dermatology. Surgical/procedural dermatology involves removal and treatment of skin cancers, removal of moles and benign growths on the skin, as well as laser. Non-surgical dermatology involves rashes and inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, acne and psoriasis, which can be treated with medicines and creams."
The next step will be to find a dermatologist. As with everything relating to health, you need to be careful that you see a professional, so your usual doctor should be your first port of call, as they will be able to give you a recommendation and in some instances, a referral.
If you find one you like, check their credentials on their website and make sure they specialise in what you're after, whether that's help with acne or a laser treatment. Also feel free to speak to people who are in the waiting room when you go for your consultation, which is what we'll be looking at next week.