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Everyone’s skin is different. So, when you go for a check-up, a skin doctor will look at your particular concerns and give you advice about how to get the best out of your skin. The more honest you can be with your doctor about what you’ve been doing, the more helpful their help will be. Here is what skin doctors check:
1. The quality of your skin:
This is very important for monitoring any changes over time and how effective treatment has restored healthy skin cells.Â Does it have a healthy glow? Is it blemish-free? Does it look soft and supple, without dryness or sagging? All these factors indicate optimum skin health.
2. Your skin’s elasticity:Â
Skin specialists can use this to see if your skin is responding well to treatment or losing tone and need additional treatments to improve your skin condition. It is one way that doctors diagnose conditions like Cushing’s syndrome, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or thyroid disease.
3. The condition of your pores:Â
Pore size shows how well your skin functions, which varies with hormones, diet and general health. Doctors look for dilated (wide open) pores, whiteheads or blackheads, which usually indicates problems with sebum production – either too much sebum produced by overactive oil glands in the skin (seborrhoea) or too little sebum, which may be due to a hormonal imbalance, a problem with the oil glands in the skin (for example, blocked glands due to overactive antidiuretic hormone production) or certain medications.
4. The condition of your skin pigmentation:Â
Skin doctors look for brown patches on the skin, called hyperpigmented spots or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). These may indicate an underlying skin disease like eczema, psoriasis, vitiligo or acne. PIH exists when cells produce excess melanin (dark pigment), causing brown patches on the skin. Your doctor will advise you about treatment options and help you manage other associated conditions in other parts of your body.
5. The condition of your hair:Â
Balding in men is usually caused by the hormone DHT (dihydrotestosterone). It thins the hair at the front and crown of the scalp, leaving a rim of thick, curly hairs around it. This pattern was scientifically proven to be due to an accumulation of DHT-sensitive follicles at the side and back of the scalp. Treatment options depend on how much hair you have left – if you’ve got less than 50%, then minoxidil (Rogaine) will help stimulate growth; if you’ve got more than 50%, then finasteride (Propecia) may help stop further loss. Sometimes, antiandrogens like flutamide may be helpful as well.
6. The condition of your sweat and sebaceous glands:Â
This is important for those with hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) or other concerns that affect the production of work, such as an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism), diabetes, liver disease or menopause. Excess sebum can cause acne, so managing hormonal changes and stress can help reduce acne outbreaks too.
7. Signs of infection:
Some diseases like diabetes and HIV also cause skin infections, so it’s important to let your doctor know if you develop any signs of infection such as red, swollen skin which oozes pus, a high temperature (fever), cold sores on the lips or mouth ulcers.
8. Signs of scarring:Â
This may be due to previous skin problems or trauma (injury). Still, your doctor needs to assess the type of scars you have, where they are and how deep they go to recommend the most appropriate treatment if necessary.
9. Signs of autoimmune disease:Â
Autoimmune diseases like lupus can affect organs like the kidneys, lungs, and brain and damage the skin, resulting in rashes (often called butterfly rashes). Doctors check specific markers in blood tests that indicate an autoimmune disease. Lupus may cause dryness, scaling, itching and redness of the skin on different parts of the body, so a complete examination would include looking at all areas on your body.
10. Nail problems:Â
Doctors check for signs of psoriasis (inflamed, scaly red patches on the skin frequently affecting the scalp and trunk), lichen planus (a type of autoimmune disease that affects the skin) or alopecia areata (autoimmune hair loss). People with these conditions often experience nail changes as well. Your doctor may take a small tissue sample of an affected area of your skin to check for certain factors under a microscope that indicates that you have an autoimmune condition.
11. Moles on your skin:
Doctors check moles on your skin to monitor changes in colour, shape and size while looking out for the signs of melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer). During a mole examination, doctors usually look at other sites on your body that are difficult to see during an office visit.
12. Your habits:
Do you drink enough water? Do you smoke or regularly expose yourself to the sun without sunscreen protection of at least SPF 15? Are you always on your mobile phone, putting pressure on your face that could lead to premature ageing and wrinkles around the eyes later in life? If you do any of these things regularly, then they could be damaging your complexion.
13. Signs of skin cancer:Â
Doctors will look for changes in your moles, freckles or other dark patches on the skin, such as melanoma or non-melanoma skin cancer. This can be difficult to assess because, like other skin conditions, there are variations in how skin cancer looks and feels. You mustn’t try to diagnose yourself – go to see your doctor if you’re at all concerned about anything changing on your body.
14. And finally, general health:Â
A healthy lifestyle is essential no matter what age you are, but it’s especially true when treating any condition with medication (for example, acne). Good nutrition and exercise should improve the way you feel and how your skin looks too. You may also want to ask your doctor about the side effects of your medication, like increased sun sensitivity or mood changes. If you’re on combination therapy for acne, you must take all medications as directed by your doctor. This is because some acne medications work together or affect other medications you may be taking. In severe acne cases, it’s essential to carry the appropriate immune-suppressive medicines, which means that your doctor will want to monitor you closely while you’re on these drugs.
Here are the things your skin doctor or dermatologist check for. Skin doctor also uses various diagnostic approaches for the proper diagnosis. These are:
- Blood Tests:
Blood tests are done to find out if there is a possibility of a systemic health problem causing the skin problem.
- Skin Biopsy:
Skin biopsies are small samples of skin tissue that can be taken as a surgical procedure or by using special devices such as dermatology pellets. They are sometimes needed to diagnose specific types of noncancerous (benign) conditions, including melanocytic naevi, lupus erythematosus, dermatitis herpetiformis, keratosis pilaris and psoriasis Vulgaris.
Dermatoscopy is a non-invasive diagnostic tool that provides doctors with an overview of the structure of your skin. A dermatoscope has a magnifying lens and obtains information about the characteristics of the skin by examining it rather than just looking at it.
- Wood’s Light Examination:
Wood’s Lamp, or ultraviolet Lamp, the examination is performed to look for fungus infection of the skin or indications that there may be certain superficial fungal infections on hair, nails or in mucous membranes (mucocutaneous junctions).
- Patch Tests:
Patch tests are done to check for contact dermatitis (allergic reactions caused by different substances like shampoos, deodorants, cleaning agents etc.), which can be itchy and red patches on the skin.
- Hormonal Essay:
Hormonal assays are used to study the effects of hormones on skin conditions and look for hormonal imbalance in conditions like acne, hirsutism (excessive growth of hair), alopecia (hair loss) and virilisation (masculinisation).
How does skin doctors or dermatologist decide the treatment?
A dermatologist decides your treatment based on your description of the problem you’re facing and after making a diagnosis. For non-melanoma skin cancer, it’s essential to be aware of any changes in moles, freckles and other dark patches on the skin because these could indicate this condition. It is also possible for non-melanoma skin cancer to be present in places not exposed to the sun. Your doctor may want you to have more tests if the initial treatment did not work or your condition did not improve, or if your illness was quite severe initially.
How does a dermatologist or skin doctors treat the disorder?
A dermatologist treats diseases of the skin, hair and nails. Depending on the condition being treated, dermatologists may use medical procedures such as
Chemical peels are used to treat superficial skin problems such as acne, age spots and freckles. They work by producing a controlled injury to the skin so that it heals with more collagen in the dermis. With time, this makes way for healthier and younger-looking skin.
Dermatologists use chemical peels of different strengths to treat skin problems. They may be performed in the dermatologist’s office, or you may need to go to a day spa for superficial peels.
Lasers are used to treat vascular lesions (dilated blood vessels) on cheeks and chin, port wine stains (birthmarks), benign pigmented spots on the face, neck and hands and photodamaged skin. Lasers work by directing a stream of highly concentrated light onto a specific skin area, which changes or breaks down the damaged tissue. The body then absorbs this broken-down tissue over time. This is called “laser ablation.” Lasers can also be used to remove tattoos from the skin.
Cryotherapy uses cold temperatures to remove warts, moles and other benign lesions from the skin. It can also help to reduce pain caused by some conditions. Cryotherapy is usually performed using liquid nitrogen for between 30 seconds and two minutes. This causes scarring or blistering of tissue which falls off after a few days.
Dermabrasion is a cosmetic procedure used to remove the top layer of skin and reduce the appearance of scars, wrinkles and facial blemishes. Fine particles are sprayed onto the skin at high pressure while cooled by a vacuum tube, causing minor wounds on the skin’s surface. This helps the skin to heal and regenerate with a smoother surface than before.
Electrodessication is used to treat warts resistant to other forms of treatment, including cryotherapy (freezing). This process uses an electric current to destroy abnormal cells on the skin. It is only suitable for small areas of skin and should not be used near the eyes or lips.
Surgical treatment is an option for skin cancers, birthmarks and port-wine stains. It involves the use of a local anaesthetic so that you feel no pain during the procedure. A laser can be used to remove most types of warts from the hands or feet, but it may require several treatments. In most cases, your dermatologist will tell you whether the condition is benign or malignant and then advise on treatment options. You should not usually treat serious skin conditions yourself because you do not know if the lesion is cancerous.
What happens at a dermatology check-up?
- You will be asked several questions about your medical history, current medications and allergies. A thorough examination of your skin, hair and nails will then be performed. Your doctor may check the following:
- Treatments for specific conditions.
- Your doctor can advise you on suitable treatments for any pre-existing conditions. They may, for instance, suggest applying tretinoin cream to stretch marks or erythromycin ointment to psoriasis plaques. Discuss the possible side effects of each treatment with your doctor.
- Dermatologists can give you advice on treating minor skin conditions at home, such as acne or warts.
If you are concerned about an area of skin changing in size, colour or texture, see your dermatologist. They will be able to check for any pre-cancerous lesions and recommend suitable treatment options if necessary.For more information, you can book an appointment with a skin doctor or dermatologist through OHO Homoeopathy!