Most adults understand they should visit their general practitioner every year, yet few know that seeing their dermatologist should be part of their regular health and wellness routine. Many assume that since they haven’t noticed any significant skin problems, they don’t need to set aside time to see a dermatologist. However, an appointment with a dermatologist can be beneficial for just about anyone — whether or not they have existing concerns.
I Am in Good Health — Do I Need to See My Dermatologist?
Even if you do not have any concerns about your skin, hair, or nails, it’s still imperative to see a dermatologist regularly as a way of maintaining good health. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), 20% of all Americans will develop skin cancer at some point in their life. Consequently, healthy adults should see a dermatologist for early detection of skin cancer and various other dermatologic disorders. We recommend every adult have a full-body exam a minimum of once per year.
I Have Risk Factors for Skin Cancer or Another Condition — How Often Should I See My Dermatologist?
While once a year is recommended for each individual, at-risk adults may need to visit their dermatologists more often. Your dermatologist is the person best-suited to advise you on how often you should receive check-ups. More frequent appointments may be necessary if any of the following apply:
- You or someone in your family has a history of melanoma or other skin cancer
- Extensive current or previous sun exposure or repeated sunburns
- Current or previous tanning bed use
- You have acne, psoriasis, eczema, or other skin condition
Your doctor can put together a personalized plan to address any concerns you may have about your skin, including more frequent check-ups, a referral to another specialist, or individualized treatment. That said, it is not uncommon for a dermatologist to advise a patient with particular risk factors to have examinations multiple times per year.
When Should I See a Dermatologist Immediately?
You should make an immediate appointment if you observe any of the following:
- A suspicious lesion or mole that is changing in size and/or color
- A lesion that bleeds often and will not heal
- A new rash that will not resolve
- An infected lesion or nail