Deciphering the cryptic rash
Most diseases affect the skin in some way. This is especially true with infections and immune system diseases. Hands down, dermatologists are the experts at recognizing subtle differences in the way diseases affect the skin and at making diagnoses the old fashioned way, without a lot of expensive tests. Sure dermatologists will take skin biopsies and send out for blood work, but the field of dermatology rests on visual identification. When other medical professionals are stumped about a particular skin lesion (and with the skin that happens a lot), a dermatologist is the professional to visit.
According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. While it may not be responsible for the most deaths, it is still a deadly form of cancer. One of the reasons that skin cancer is the most common, but not the most deadly cancer is because of early detection and treatment. In large part we have dermatologists to thank for detection and treatment. Skin care doctors are saving lives every day.
Providing and preserving healthy skin
Dermatologists don’t just save lives, they also keep people looking their best. Since many of the things that stand in the way of beautiful skin have a biological or physical basis, skin care doctors are the experts at maintaining healthy skin and also keeping it beautiful. For example, we know a great deal about acne and, in many cases, the right antibiotic is the only way to fully eliminate a particularly aggressive case.
Further, if acne damage has already occurred a dermatologist can improve the look of acne-damaged skin by providing injections, peels, and, topical medications. While it is true that other clinicians can provide peels and non-prescription creams, dermatologists provide comprehensive treatment. This means that with a skin care doctor, the best treatment course can be followed, whether it involves medical interventions or not.
May I make a recommendation?
While we take it for granted, the concept of “dermatologist recommended” and the associated label is based on the considerable knowledge, experience, and judgment of the medically-trained, skin experts. Of course if the term “dermatologist recommended” is going to mean anything, it must actually be earned. Unfortunately the term “dermatologist recommended” is not defined or tightly regulated by the FDA.
That means it can be applied to just about anything (though the hope is that reputable manufacturers have the clinical studies and/or endorsements to back up their products). In practice, the best way to make sure your hygiene products, over-the-counter medications, lifestyle choices, and diet are truly “dermatologist recommended” is to make an appointment and ask a skin care doctor yourself.
When dermatology is not the answer
There are two circumstances when a skin care doctor or dermatologist may not be the right choice. One, the procedure that you are seeking is non-invasive and offered by professional that is not a dermatologist (e.g. superficial exfoliation, facials, etc.) and two, when you are looking to change the contour or structure of your face. In the first situation, you may actually save a buck or two if the professionals are licensed and the company is reputable.
In the second situation, it is best to go directly to a cosmetic plastic surgeon rather than a dermatologist. The surgeon will be able to make structural changes that a dermatologist simply cannot. Other than that, there are no better qualified professionals to ensure that you achieve and maintain healthy skin than those that are board certified in dermatology.