Featured, Skin

Stubborn Skin Problems? You May Need An Investigative Dermatologist

Your skin may need further investigation.

Most dermatologists can handle the majority of skin concerns, and jumping from doctor to doctor isn’t the best idea. Usually, it takes a few visits for a doctor to get a full history and see how you’re responding to certain suggestions, procedures, or treatments.
But some specific skin conditions or chronic problems may require a more investigative diagnostician or a specialist.

  • Does your doctor take a full, detailed history, including past diagnoses and test results, other health conditions, vitamins, nutritional supplements and medications, nutrition and exercise, your work and hobbies, your favorite clothing and the materials you’re normally exposed to (such as laptop or phone cases, eyeglass frames, etc.)?
  • If you’ve had chronic sensitivity or hyperpigmentation, does your doctor recommend a patch test (for the former) or photo-patch test (for the latter)?
  • Does your doctor explain to you possible cross reactions or interactions between certain vitamins, food, beverages, or drugs that are known to cause acne, sensitivity or hyperpigmentations?
  • Is your doctor a specialist in contact dermatitis, with knowledge of various ingredients and substances, and how their chemistry might make them related to other ingredients and substances?
  • Does your doctor tend to explain her or his recommendations to you based on current studies?
  • Does your doctor do research or teach residents?
  • Has your doctor ruled out other possible health concerns that could be affecting your skin, such as PCOS, diabetes, thyroid issues, inflammatory conditions, etc.? Does he or she ask for other blood or hormone tests? Has she or he mentioned the possibility of referring you to another doctor to explore other health concerns? For an example, check out My Dermatologist Has X-Ray Vision.
  • If you have been diagnosed with a specific skin disease, are you seeing a physician who is known to be a specialist in the condition?
  • Is your doctor a dermatopathologist (someone who can read biopsies) as well as a dermatologist?
  • Does your doctor seem supportive of you seeking a second opinion, and/or working as part of a team with your other doctors to manage your health?

Again, most well-trained, properly boarded dermatologists can effectively manage the majority of skin concerns. But a subset of people may require more specialized care. Don’t hop around, but don’t give up, either.