The Derm or the Drugstore?


When should I see my derm and when can I just go to the drugstore?

I have patients in my office for all kinds of reasons. We all wear a lot of skin and there are thousands of problems with malfunctions and how skin looks. Spots, dots, wrinkles, rashes, zits… How do you decide what’s “dermatologist-visit-worthy” and what you can handle on your own?

On Your Own

  • For itching skin caused by dryness, you may just need a good body moisturizer – try Aveeno Relief, Eucerin, Cetaphil or CeraVe SA
  • Rashes – those are always debatable but if they’re short-term, limited to small areas, and not accompanied by fever or blisters, you can probably quell them with an over-the-counter cortisone cream from the drugstore.
  • Acne is the one condition that be-devils most teens. Benzoyl peroxide to kill the acne “bug”, and salicylic acid or glycolics to keep the pores unplugged.
  • Spots, dots, and wrinkles – Sunscreen is your best defense. Hydration makes a difference so look for lotions and creams that are fragrance-free.

To the Derm You Go

  • Acne that persists despite your best efforts. There’s no reason to suffer for years trying to wait it out.
  • Rashes accompanied by blisters, fever or so intense nothing works. ANY rash accompanied by fever is potentially a bigger problem so see your primary doctor ASAP.
  • White silvery patches are a sign of psoriasis. See a derm.
  • Changing or new moles, sores that won’t heal, crusty spots that bleed. See a derm.
  • Discoloration, wrinkles, dark spots that bother you – there are prescription-level products and wonderful laser and light technologies that do a fantastic fast job of blending and smoothing.
  • If in doubt – Yep, you got it…See a derm!