It’s summertime, so that means beach days, barbecues with friends, and overdue appointments with the dermatologist. Long days in the sunshine feel amazing, but they also make it necessary for us to be safe. It’s crucial to regularly see your dermatologist both for sun damage and a huge variety of skin ailments.
“It’s a broad subject to talk about,” Stan Kovak, MD of Kovak Dermatology & Laser Institute told me. “A dermatologist sees everything about the skin, from hair to nails. Signs and symptoms can be for just about anything.” If you have been experiencing any of the following changes, make sure to make an appointment with your physician.
Itchy, red scalp
An itchy scalp is more than just annoying. Sure, your coworkers may be giving you sideways glances and scooting their chairs away, but it goes beyond that. You may have a chronic condition that can be treated.
Dermatologist Gary Marder recommended seeing your dermatologist if you’ve been noticing an “itchy scalp with raised, reddish, scaly patches.” Don’t assume that this is something you just have to live with. “This can affect your entire scalp and is generally a condition called scalp psoriasis,” he told me.
Another scalp annoyance that you don’t have to just take is hair loss. “If you notice the sudden appearance of a bald patch or experience excessive hair loss, your dermatologist could help,” Dermatologist Allison Arthur told me.
There are quite a few reasons why you could be experiencing hair loss, and it takes an expert to determine what is causing yours. “This could be hereditary hair loss, alopecia, or caused by another medical condition or a medical treatment or medication,” Dr. Marder told me. “A dermatologist will determine that for you.”
Rather than trying the treat the hair loss yourself with over-the-counter products or by parting your hair on the other side, make the appointment and get to the root of the problem.
If you have experienced a bad sunburn this summer, that is enough of a reason to see the dermatologist. Sunburn is a sign of skin damage, so getting it checked out right away could save you a lot of time and pain in the future. If you notice any changes to your skin after time in the sun, make an appointment.
“A tender, wart-like lump that develops in a sun exposed area over just a couple weeks could signify a type of squamous cell carcinoma,” Dermatologist George Skandamis told me. Instead of spending the rest of the summer worrying about that spot, ask your physician for next steps.
New skin growth
Part of the reason why dermatologists recommend checking your own skin regularly is so that you are able to recognize changes quickly. If you notice a new growth or mark on your skin, it’s best to get it checked out right away. “See your dermatologist if you notice a new growth that doesn’t go away within two to three weeks,” Dermatologist Fayne Frey told me.
The new mark may be benign, but you just can’t be sure on your own. “Any new or changing dark spot on the skin should be evaluated by a dermatologist,” Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research Department of Dermatology at The Mount Sinai Hospital Joshua Zeichner, MD told me. “Melanoma is a deadly form of skin cancer. Early detection and removal can be a cure. If you see something, don’t wait, and make sure to get yourself checked out.”
Many of us think of acne as an annoyance that we just have to live with, but dermatologists disagree. Having severe or worsening acne isn’t just embarrassing or uncomfortable. It can actually leave permanent marks and scarring, so don’t let it get out of hand. “If you notice worsening acne, see a dermatologist to help prevent scarring,” said Dr. Frey.