If you’re the type of person who is makes doctor appointments as a LAST resort, let us reassure you that often times, the sooner we catch a skin condition, the better it is for you in the long run. Nobody here is going to call you a hypochondriac when you come in for any of the following reasons, so here are 7 signs you should see a dermatologist. If you can say yes to any of these, schedule an appointment online with one of our clinicians in Meridian or Boise or call (208) 884-3376.
1) If your skin is affecting your quality of life, see a dermatologist.
Maybe you know what you’ve got, but you’ve just been “living with it.” We love helping our patients achieve a better quality of life through clear skin. Acne, psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema are common problems with many treatments. If you haven’t had success before, that doesn’t mean you can’t! New treatments, new evidences, new medicines (especially for psoriasis) are giving patients renewed hope every day.
Acne: If you’ve been consistent with over the counter treatments and they aren’t working for you, we can help. There are several options. It still takes consistency, but acne is treatable and it CAN be better. We take acne seriously because studies show that having acne tends to lower self-esteem and treating acne early can keep it from worsening and leaving permanent scars.
Eczema: When untreated, eczema can have domino effect with serious consequences- especially when it affects growing children. For adults, it’s possible to live well with eczema so that it does not affect your sleep, sexual function and quality of life. Listen to Dr. Swanson, Pediatric Dermatologist, about why kids should be treated for eczema even though most children grow out of the condition.
Psoriasis: The latest best advances in dermatology have been in the area of psoriasis treatment in the form of “biologics.” These medicines are changing lives for many. If you or someone you know gave up a long time ago on their psoriasis, or want to learn what the newest treatments are, make an appointment with a board certified dermatologist. Listen to Whitney Vinson, MD, FAAD talk about how they work here
2) If that spot is weird, changing or unusual, see a dermatologist.
What’s weird, you ask? Spots that do any of the following without resolving after 3 weeks:
- Just keep bleeding
- Are fast growing
- Open sore that doesn’t heal
- Are pearly, transparent, tan, brown, black, or multicolored
These can be easily blown off… until suddenly it’s been 3 months and you’re still dealing with it. Not all such lesions are cancerous, but it is worth getting a professional opinion if you aren’t sure.
3) If the spot is shiny/pink like a pimple, but doesn’t go away, see a dermatologist.
So many of our patients have felt that spot was ““just a pimple I keep picking at.” But, in reality, was a basal cell carcinoma. Basal cell carcinoma is a common cancer that on the surface is like the tip of an iceberg. They have microscopic fingers of tumor that continue to grow and can become great big icebergs under the surface.
- Watch an interview with our patient who is a 26 year old who underwent Mohs surgery for basal cell carcinoma on her nose.
- View more pictures of basal cell carcinoma on SkinCancer.org.
4) If you are at a high risk for skin cancer, but have never had skin check by a dermatologist.
These are high risk factors for skin cancer:
- Indoor tanning
- Skin Type
- Unprotected exposure to UV rays
- Atypical moles
- Organ transplant
- Red hair
Not sure if you’re at high risk? Use this calculator!
5) If you’ve got a mole with any of the following qualities, see a dermatologist.
You’ve probably heard this list so many times, but it bears repeating because skin cancer is common and can help you identify the deadliest type: melanoma. Did you know Idaho consistently ranks among the highest states for melanoma incidence and death rates? Here are things to look for as described by the Skin Cancer Foundation:
A is for Asymmetry. Most melanomas are asymmetrical. If you draw a line through the middle of the lesion, the two halves don’t match, so it looks different from a round to oval and symmetrical common mole.
B is for Border. Melanoma borders tend to be uneven and may have scalloped or notched edges. Common moles tend to have smoother, more even borders.
C is for Color. Multiple colors are a warning sign. While benign moles are usually a single shade of brown, a melanoma may have different shades of brown, tan or black. As it grows, the colors red, white or blue may also appear.
D is for Diameter or Dark. While it’s ideal to detect a melanoma when it is small, it’s a warning sign if a lesion is the size of a pencil eraser (about 6 mm, or ¼ inch in diameter) or larger. Some experts say it is important to look for any lesion, no matter what size, that is darker than others. Rare, amelanotic melanomas are colorless.
E is for Evolving. Any change in size, shape, color or elevation of a spot on your skin, or any new symptom in it, such as bleeding, itching or crusting, may be a warning sign of melanoma.
6) If that rash is blistering, see a dermatologist.
Rashes that blister can signal a contagious disease and/or leave scarring. If you don’t know what you’re dealing with, make an appointment with a board certified dermatologist.
7) If you find yourself online shopping for do-it-yourself chemical peels, mole removal or skin tag removal, call a dermatologist.
Chemical peels can go awry quickly. Light peels are probably okay to do at home, but moderate to deep peels should be done with an experienced provider who can control the peel. Listen to Dr. Mark Schwendiman on Instagram talk about chemical peels.
Mole Removal Trying to get rid of a mole with home remedies can do more harm than good. Homemade pastes that you apply to the mole can cause an allergic skin reaction, leaving you with red and raw skin. You’ll usually also still have the mole. If you try to shave off a mole, you may leave some of the mole in the skin. With shaving (or cutting), you also risk getting a serious scar or infection. A dermatologist can remove most moles during an office visit, without any downtime. Insurance typically covers the cost, unless you’re having the mole removed because you dislike the way it looks. Another advantage of having a dermatologist remove a mole is that the removed mole will be checked for signs of melanoma.
Skin Tag Removal If the spot you remove at home is a skin cancer, you can leave behind microscopic cancer cells. These cancer cells can multiply and spread deep into the tissue beneath your skin. If you have melanoma, the most serious skin cancer, these skin cancer cells can spread quickly throughout the body. Dermatologists can also minimize scarring. Any time you wound your skin, you risk developing a scar. Dermatologists have the expertise required to reduce scarring. You’ll also Avoid difficult-to-stop blood loss. Dermatologists have the in-depth medical expertise required to remove skin growths with the least amount of injury. Without this knowledge, it’s easy for you to nick a blood vessel or cut into a vein unexpectedly.