Defining Medical Dermatology

Defining Medical Dermatology | Spectrum Dermatology, Scottsdale

Defining Medical Dermatology

What’s the difference between medical and cosmetic dermatology? There’s often a lot of overlap, which is why Spectrum Dermatology offers both in one convenient location. Medical dermatology refers to conditions that are medically necessary to treat, and oftentimes (but not always) these conditions are covered by your insurance. It’s a challenge because there are over 3,000 skin conditions and many of them are quite common. For example, acne is a medical condition that can be very serious, causing pain and permanent scarring. However, because it’s so common, it often is not covered by insurance plans.

An example of cosmetic dermatology is a treatment to tighten the skin and improve laxity. Wrinkles and lines are not a medical condition but rather the natural changes your body experiences with age, effects of gravity, and diminished collagen synthesis. Laser treatments to remove hyperpigmentation, such as sun damage, are also considered a cosmetic treatment and is not covered by insurance—even though hyperpigmentation is technically a “skin condition.”

Why You Need Medical Dermatology Care

Your skin is an organ, and as such it needs a doctor just as much as the rest of your body. There are thousands of skin conditions and some of them are very serious, such as skin cancer. Skin cancer is also common and most adults will have some form of skin cancer in their life. However, skin cancer is also very easy to treat when it’s caught early with an annual skin check from your dermatologist. This is one appointment you can’t afford to miss.

Melanoma is the deadliest of all skin cancers, but all types of skin cancers are dangerous if they aren’t diagnosed and treated on time. You can also help keep this critical medical dermatology condition in check by tracking your own moles on a monthly basis. It can be helpful to have a loved one or friend “swap” mole checks with you so you don’t miss areas on the back or scalp.

Beyond Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most serious of skin conditions but others can be painful and embarrassing, too. For example, eczema is common but if untreated can cause severe itching—which leads to scratching, lacerations, and increasing your risk of acquiring an infection. There is no cure for eczema, but a dermatologist can help you identify triggers and work with you to create a system to manage the symptoms. The same is true of rosacea. Rosacea isn’t usually painful (unless it affects certain areas of the face), but it can be annoying and interfere with relationships. It is not curable either, but there are ways a dermatologist can help you manage it.

Unfortunately, most people don’t see a dermatologist for their medical concerns until a warning sign becomes impossible to ignore. More often, people might see an aesthetician to help them with cosmetic concerns like age spot removal or skin tightening treatments. This can certainly help your self-esteem, but dermatologists don’t typically perform these treatments. It’s important to also see a dermatologist at least once per year to achieve and sustain healthy, clear skin.

Choosing a Dermatologist

If you’re interested in both medical and cosmetic treatments, we offer both. This can help you reduce the time you spend traveling to your appointments and you can often schedule both medical and cosmetic appointments back-to-back. As we enter the summer months, your skin might be reacting in different ways. It’s common for allergies to exacerbate eczema and rosacea, the wrong sunscreen might not be working well for your skin, or perhaps you’re experiencing breakouts. Our skin changes with each season, so right now is a great time to get into the habit of seeing a dermatologist regularly.

Only a dermatologist can diagnose a skin condition and offer proper treatment. Even if you’re “just” struggling with a common issue like acne, know that a dermatologist can prescribe treatments and medications that are worlds better than what you can find in stores. Help is possible for any and all of your skin worries and goals. Get in touch with Spectrum Dermatology today to schedule your consultation or appointment.