From cystic pimples to scaly skin: 6 signs you should see a dermatologist.

When it comes to skincare, these days we're all a bunch of savvy little rats who know all about ingredients, products and how to create a solid regimen. And if you're anything like us, your bathroom cabinet is *bursting* with products.

But here's the thing: Sometimes your self-prescribed skincare routine doesn't cut it. And sometimes your skin freaks out. Bad. And you can't do anything to help it. No matter how many serums and masks you try to slap on to repair it. Or how many frantic Google searches you do.

This, friends, is when you should see a dermatologist. 

Cause dermatologists aren't just there to check your moles, you know. 

Watch: Just on that - how can you tell if a mole is actually dangerous? Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia

Sure, you might be able to manage things like acne, rosacea, psoriasis and the crew - but sometimes you need more than over-the-counter stuff.

So, if you're wondering when you need to see a dermatologist, we've got you covered.

We asked Dr Cara McDonald from Complete Skin Specialists to take us through the different reasons you might want to consider making an appointment.

Your skin feels irritated and sensitive.

If your face is itching, stinging or burning and you can't quite nail down what's going on, it's probably time to see a professional - because this is a sign you have symptomatic skin.

Listen: How this international supermodel overcame eczema. Post continues below. 

"This means you have any sort of discomfort on your skin on a regular basis," said Dr McDonald. "This may be itching, burning, stinging, heat, tenderness, pain or flushing."

Sound familiar? 

Sure, you can slap on cortisone creams and ointments you grabbed at the chemist, but you could be dealing with something a little bigger than a seasonal flare-up or a weird reaction. It could be a chronic condition like eczema, rosacea or psoriasis


"These are all generally signs of skin pathology rather than normal skin. Much like the rest of the body, we shouldn’t have any real feelings of discomfort on the skin if it is healthy. If your skin feels uncomfortable, you should see a dermatologist for a specific diagnosis and treatment."

You cannot tolerate normal skincare products.

Skin freaking TF out when you're trying to introduce certain products into your routine? Something's probably up.

"Many people complain that their skin is sensitive or that they struggle with certain skincare products, in particular sunscreens or anti-ageing ingredients," said Dr McDonald. 

"In most cases where the skin has become sensitised or irritated there is an underlying skin condition or dysfunction in the skin."

Did you catch that? If you consistently experience super sensitised skin, there's a possibility that you could be suffering from a skin condition - you just had no idea.

"There are many possible diagnoses such as rosacea, dermatitis, solar keratosis (widespread sun damage) and allergies, so a dermatologist will often be able to diagnose and treat the problem allowing improved tolerance down the track," said Dr McDonald. 

You have acne which is widespread, persistent, painful or scarring.

Ever experience those *throbbing* blind pimples that literally feel like the size of a golf-ball and hurt like s**t? Or painful, inflamed acne that spreads everywhere and just won't bugger off, no matter what kind of routine you try?

"Many people can manage mild acne with over-the-counter products or good skincare advice and treatments by a dermal therapist," said Dr McDonald. "However, if the acne is deep, cystic, painful, widespread, resistant to treatment or leaving any scars then it is important to seek medical advice as soon as possible."

Unlike regular pimples, deep cystic acne comes about due to a combination of hormonal fluctuations, stress, and bacteria that is much harder to control. It's not just cause you didn't cleanse your face properly that one time. Kay?

Plus, it's not always avoidable. Sometimes the odds are just against you, and cystic acne is something that runs in your family. In these cases, a simple visit to a dermatologist can help massively.

If you're dealing with deep cystic spots, your dermatologist can often give you a steroid injection to reduce the pain and inflammation and speed up the healing process. 

For regular acne breakouts, they can help suss out longer-term treatments to help minimise the occurrence. This can include topical retinoids, antibiotics, and even birth control - it obviously varies between patients.


"Unfortunately, acne scarring is very difficult, painful and time-consuming to treat, but can easily be prevented with appropriate early management of acne. Even acne that is not scarring should be treated proactively if it is causing significant discomfort or affecting social function due to appearance or low self-esteem."

You have problems with the hair, nails or genital skin.

Did you know dermatologists also look after hair, skin and nail issues? Well, they do.

While it's usual to lose a few hairs every day (quick fact: the average person loses anywhere from 50 to 100 hairs a day. Cool!), when should we be worried about that clump of hair in the shower drain? 

Well, if you're suddenly noticing a growing bald spot, a widening part, or significant shedding - these could be signs of something more serious. Because hair loss is a complicated game. 

While your genetics and hormones play a massive role in the health of your hair and scalp, it can also be attributed to things like diet, medications, illness, and even stress. It's also a super common (and completely normal) effect of pregnancy and can occur during the postpartum period.

What we're trying to say here, is that this is a sign you should see a professional. 

A dermatologist will be able to assess what’s going on and pinpoint the exact cause, as well as suggesting some treatment options, including topical and oral medications. 

"Many people don’t realise that dermatologists are specialists in conditions affecting all areas of the hair, skin and nails," said Dr McDonald. 

"Any sudden or significant hair loss, nail disorders and persistent problems in the genital area can usually be treated by a dermatologist."

Yep. Even for that weird skin stuff that's happening near your vulva - skin conditions can flare up here too, you know. 

Get it seen, people.

You’ve never had a skin check.

Okay. This is a super obvious one, right? 

Hang on - have you had your skin checked before? Well, you probably should. 

"Every adult deserves a thorough skin check preferably in their 20s or 30s. A skin check will help you determine what your underlying risk is for skin cancer and ensure that you have no spots of concern that you didn’t know about," said Dr McDonald.

"The best thing about a skin check with a dermatologist is that you will be educated on checking your own skin, skin cancer detections and prevention of premature ageing, arming you with all the knowledge you need going forward."


You have a changing skin spot.

If you have some moles, freckles or birthmarks kicking around your body, you need to keep tabs on any kind of changes in shapes or size, and make sure you see a dermatologist if you notice anything weird (like a mole or growth that ends up really itchy and bleeds). 

"Skin cancers, by definition, are growing lesions and therefore may change in colour, shape or size, bleed or be sore. If you feel you have a spot that has changed or is continuing to evolve it should be checked immediately."

While some changes can be totally harmless, others can be pretty serious - so, yeah. It's always best to consult a professional with anything that looks suspicious.

"Many people develop all sorts of new lesions on their skin throughout their life, but most of these are harmless and benign. It can be difficult to know which skin lesions are the ones to worry about, but as a general rule any spot that is evolving or changing should be checked as soon as possible."

Okay cool, thanks, bye, please call your derm.

Feature image: Getty

Have you ever seen a dermatologist for the above skin issues? Share with us in the comment section below.

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