Changes in your skin should be examined by someone with extensive knowledge of proper skin care and conditions. But how do you know who to contact?

A dermatologist is a medical doctor who specializes in the treatment of skin. This means they have attended medical school (just like your regular doctor) and have received extra training to care for the skin. They are capable of prescribing medications and medical treatments for skin conditions. They are able to diagnose skin conditions and perform surgery.

An esthetician (sometimes known as a skin care therapist) has attended a trade school and passed a state board exam. Schooling requirements range by state (usually 3-6 months). Estheticians have received training on skin care treatment such as facials, body wraps, skin analysis, microdermabrasion, peels and other skin care techniques to improve the look and feel of your skin. They cannot diagnose skin conditions or prescribe medications however they can recommend over-the-counter treatments for common skin care concerns.

Now, how do decide who to see first?

That depends on your skin concerns, symptoms and medical history. These are all factors to consider and should not be taken lightly. A good rule of thumb is:

If you’re seeking skin care maintenance or cosmetic concerns, start with an esthetician. Estheticians can help with acne, dry skin, maturing skin and even some common concerns such as rosacea or hyperpigmentation. An esthetician may recommend specialized treatments or skin care products to help reduce or eliminate your problem.

If you have persistent symptoms despite home treatment, pain, sudden development of symptoms or reactions to chemicals, medications or anything your skin came in contact with, see a dermatologist. A dermatologist can help to rule out any underlying medical condition and prescribe medications that will be more aggressive for the treatment or persistent issues. For example, if you have painful acne that will not clear up using standard over-the-counter remedies, a dermatologist can provide a higher dosage (prescription) to help treat it.

Unsure?

If you develop a skin concern and are still unsure who to see, check with your primary care physician (PCP). They can either refer you to a dermatologist if they believe it is necessary or advise you to consult an esthetician.

Conclusion

Never ignore any skin concerns you may have or develop over time. Your skin is the largest organ and requires as much care and treatment as your heart, lungs or any other organ. Do not assume that conditions will “clear up on their own” as this can lead to more serious conditions developing. If you are concerned, ask.

Learn more about better skin care at www.bellaninainstitute.com.

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