One of the major plot points in the story of becoming an adult is swapping your guardian-approved pediatrician for a general practitioner. Eventually, you recognize the need for a primary care physician and, despite dreading making your own doctor’s appointments, you oblige.
So why not see one for the outside, too? We mean your skin, of course. And like finding your own GP, choosing the right dermatologist doesn’t come naturally.
Without a pressing reason like skin allergies as a child, dermatology is often an afterthought — but it definitely shouldn’t be.
From routine skin cancer screenings to hormonal acne treatment (which is something women from ages of 20 to 29 to 40 to 49 encounter), your dermatologist can help with balancing your skin health — or at least, the right one will, which is why choosing the best person for the job is so important.
If you’ve never been to the dermatologist before but feel ready, able, and willing to take this step now, here are a few tips to get you started:
Chances are you have a concern you want to solve, but not every dermatologist is suitable.
Dermatologic care, like any other type of medical care, must be specific to your needs as a patient. This is a transactional service after all.
Dr. Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, a board-certified physician in dermatopathology, says you should start by asking yourself if your needs are:
They can even be all the above or a combo of two. For example, eye bag removal is both cosmetic and surgical.
Regardless, Dr. Mudgil says this self-assessment is essential because dermatology expertise is such a diverse medical field. “For instance, my practice focuses on cosmetic dermatology, medical dermatology, and skin pathology but I don’t perform skin cancer surgeries,” he explains.
Ideally, you should choose a dermatologist whose specialty most closely aligns with your needs. When in doubt, call the doctor’s office and ask if the dermatologist you’re likely to see is experienced in treating your specific areas of concern.
If they imply that they may not be right for you or that you require a specialty service they don’t offer, don’t be afraid to keep looking.
Your natural skin color affects your dermatology needs.
Dr. Saya Obayan, a board-certified clinical dermatologist who specializes in the care of skin, hair, and nail diseases, says, “If you are a person of color, the first thing to do would be to find someone who has experience treating skin of color.”
“I tend to notice that skin of color forms pigment very easily, so when a person with an olive skin tone or with a darker complexion is looking for a dermatologist, they should look for someone who is familiar [with] treating hyperpigmentation,” she reveals. “[Find someone] who will be able to treat underlying conditions as well as formulate a plan to treat the dark spots.”
If you can, Dr. Obayan suggests finding a dermatologist who has also published credible work on the topic.
Expertise by skin type and color…