5 Questions You Should Be Asking Your Dermatologist
There’s no shortage of reasons to visit your dermatologist. Whether you’re due for a skin check or are dealing with pesky acne blemishes, a dermatologist can help guide you towards healthy-looking skin. Of course you’ll want to ask questions about the skin concern(s) you’re currently facing, but don’t miss out on an opportunity to discuss other important skin-related topics. To truly get the most out of your visit, make sure you’re prepared with the right questions. Below, we share five questions you’ll want to ask your dermatologist the next time you’re in the same room.
Question #1: What are the signs of skin cancer?
You should be visiting your dermatologist at least once per year for a thorough scan of your skin from scalp to soles. Your dermatologist will assess your skin under a bright light and magnifying tool to check for any suspicious looking moles or lesions that could be cancerous. However, that’s not to say you shouldn’t self-check your skin in-between visits. You know the marks on your own skin better than anyone else, so it’s important to keep an eye on birthmarks, spots, and moles for the warning signs of skin cancer. Don’t know what they are? It’s a great idea to ask your dermatologist for a quick lesson on what to look out for. The more informed you are, the better you can “catch” signs of skin cancer during early—and more curable—stages.
Question #2: How can I prevent wrinkles?
Wrinkles, fine lines, and other signs of aging are among the most common skin concerns dermatologists face daily. While aging is a natural part of life, it’s understandable that some people would want to hold onto the fountain of youth for as long as possible. The bad news is that not much can be done to slow the ticking hands of time, but the good news is that helping to prevent signs of aging from cropping up on your skin prematurely is not an impossibility. There are many factors that can contribute to premature wrinkles—we share a list of them here!—so be vocal with your dermatologist about ways in which you could amp up your prevention plan. He or she might recommend anti-aging products, lifestyle changes, or the combination of both, so ask for their tips and be prepared to take notes!
Question #3: Could my diet be affecting my skin?
Environmental factors, product use, lifestyle habits and more can impact the way your skin looks and feels, but how about your diet? Could what you are consuming regularly be linked to the skin concerns you’re facing? Talk to your dermatologist about whether or not there could be a link between certain foods or diet plans and the appearance of your skin.
Question #4: What number SPF should I be using?
Sunscreen is a non-negotiable step in every skin care routine—period. Applying broad-spectrum sunscreen to all exposed areas of skin prior to heading outdoors is one of the best ways you could help protect your body’s largest organ from harmful UV rays. These ultraviolet rays can be responsible for aging the look of your skin, and could make you more susceptible to skin cancer. As such, don’t waste your time asking your dermatologist if you should be wearing sunscreen every single day because the answer will undoubtedly be yes. Instead, ask he or she which SPF is right for your skin. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, but certain skin tones and conditions could require a different number.
Keep in mind that a higher SPF number is not always better. In fact, sometimes excessively high numbers (like SPF in the triple digits) can give you a false sense of security, leading you to believe that reapplication isn’t necessary. This couldn’t be farther from the truth, as you should be reapplying your sunscreen at least every two hours. That said, it doesn’t hurt to see what number SPF your dermatologist suggests using on your unique skin type and tone.
Question #5: How often should I exfoliate?
Over time, a buildup of dead skin cells can cause the surface of your skin to appear dull. To help slough away these rough, dead cells, it’s important to exfoliate regularly. But not all exfoliation is considered equal. There are scrubs which can mechanically exfoliate your skin, and acids which can chemically exfoliate your skin. Depending on your skin type and preference, your dermatologist could help determine which method and products are best for exfoliating your skin. Once you have your tools ready, you’ll need to know how often to exfoliate. Some stick to a schedule of once per week, and others exfoliate more often—twice, even thrice per week. Ask your dermatologist about the best cadence to follow.