All of us have minor problems with our skin from time to time, ranging from acne to irritated insect bites to itchy rashes that just won’t seem to go away. While the majority of minor skin complaints don’t warrant treatment, there are times when seeing a dermatologist is important, if not mandatory.

This is melanoma, or black mole cancer. If you have a lesion or mole that looks suspicious, see your dermatologist straightaway.

But how do you know when to just wait it out – or when to make an appointment?

A basic consideration to keep in mind is how long you have had the specific ailment. If you have a rash that doesn’t seem to get better within a few days, you might choose to see your primary care provider. If you still have no joy, this might signal the need to see a specialist. Similarly, a problem that keeps recurring may also make a visit to a specialist necessary.

Keeping in mind your own genetic history is important as well (see below). People with a history of skin cancer in their family, who are fair-skinned or prone to having a proliferation of moles on their face or body should also make regular appointments with their dermatologist to make sure they stay healthy.dermatologist west des moines is an excellent resource for this.

What is a dermatologist?

A dermatologist is someone who knows everything there is to know about skin care. He or she will not only be able to diagnose your problem, but can also prescribe creams, medicines and treatment to either cure it, or keep it under control.

There are many types of dermatologists who can treat conditions of the skin, hair and nails, and who have specific specialties in areas such as cosmetic dermatology, pediatric dermatology etc. Whether you need medical, surgical or cosmetic treatment, they should be able to help you.

According to the American Board of Dermatology, dermatologists can help with the following conditions:

Diagnosis and treatment of all types of skin cancers, melanomas, moles, and other skin tumors.

Management of specific inflammatory skin disorders such as contact dermatitis, when the skin reacts after being exposed to specific allergens.

Recognition of the skin manifestations of certain infectious and systemic diseases.Dermatopathology, or diagnosis of skin diseases, such as infections, immunologic and infectious diseases.

Surgical techniques used in dermatology, such as correction of acne scars, chemical peeling and laser surgery.

Cosmetic disorders, including hair loss, skin, and aging-related disorders.

Why See a Dermatologist?

Reasons to see a dermatologist include:

You suspect you may have skin cancer. Everyone should perform regular self-examinations of their bodies and be aware of what their moles look like. If you have a lesion or mole that looks suspicious, see your dermatologist straightaway. Moles that look unusual, have irregular borders or appear asymmetrical, have grown or bleed but do not crust over should be seen to immediately. Remember, with early detection skin cancer is often cured.

You have risk factors for skin cancer. Some people are at high risk for developing skin cancer, and along with regular self-examinations you should also see a dermatologist regularly to make sure their health is not at risk. Factors include personal history of skin cancer; close relative with a melanoma; fair skin that tends to burn or freckle; history of bad sunburns or tanning salon use; more than 50 moles on face or body; having moles that look irregular, large, or asymmetrical (see above); past use of x-ray treatments for acne, and taking medications to prevent arthritis or organ rejection.