8 Questions You Should Ask Your Dermatologist This Year

Follow these doctor-recommended tips for healthy, glowing skin all year long.

Whether you set new resolutions or not, the turn of a new calendar year comes with annual adulting duties: paying taxes, checking student loan progress, re-evaluating mortgage payments, and—if you're smart—making an appointment with your dermatologist. Skin is our largest organ, but too few people regularly set aside time to analyze its vitality. Here, derms suggest what to discuss with your doctor each year.

01 of 08

How should I regularly prevent and screen for skin cancer?

It's the most common type of cancer in the United States, and the American Academy of Dermatology estimates that one in five people will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime. Despite this alarming rate, few of us schedule skin checks to detect the earliest stages of this disease, according to Brian Ginsberg, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City.

If caught in its infancy, Dr. Ginsberg says most will experience a 99 percent survival rate. That's why he recommends a candid conversation with your derm to discuss your sun exposure and family history. (Some forms of skin cancer are genetic, and you might warrant a check more than once a year.)

Dr. Ginsberg explains that having five bad sunburns in your lifetime doubles your risk of melanoma, so it's also worth discussing the best SPF for you, as well any screening practices you can regularly implement at home.

02 of 08

What should I be doing for my skin regimen?

A quick Google search of "skincare regimen" results in endless articles, blogs, and links to a gazillion products, which makes it difficult to know what works for your specific skin type and issues, says Hadley King, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist.

Rather than reading the fine print, go straight to the pros and enlist your dermatologist to recommend what's right for you. "From which cleansers to use, to which vitamin C and sunscreen, to which lasers to consider," Dr. King says, "your dermatologist is the perfect resource to answer these questions."

RELATED: Winter Is Coming—Here's How to Transition Your Skincare Routine

03 of 08

How can I monitor my moles?

If you have one or more beauty marks, it's important to learn how to monitor them, says Peterson Pierre, MD, a board certified dermatologist in Thousand Oaks, California. You know your body better than anyone else, so you're the first line of defense.

Dr. Pierre says to be vigilant, and to follow this "ABCDE" test to ensure a mole isn't worrisome:

  • Asymmetry: Is one half of the mole different than the other half?
  • Border: Are borders irregular in any way?
  • Color: Is there a change in color or multiple colors?
  • Diameter: Is it increasing in size?
  • Elevation: Is it getting more elevated from the surface of the skin?

While this is a great way to evaluate at home ASAP, it doesn't preclude speaking with your dermatologist for in-person instructions.

04 of 08

What is this? Is this treatable?

Whether an unruly mole, an annoying ingrown hair, or a discoloration, Dr. Ginsberg says many people walk around a cumbersome skin issue. What many fail to realize is that treatment is often not only possible, but easy.

"Scars you thought were permanent, including from acne, may be able to be reduced in just a few months. Many growths can be removed in minutes with minimal scarring. That stubborn pimple can be reduced in days with one simple injection," he says. "If it bothers you, just ask. You never know what is possible these days with medicine and technology."

05 of 08

Do I need an eye cream?

Even if your grandmother, mother, and sister all insist you absolutely, 100 percent, must be using an eye cream yesterday, Dr. Pierre says they could be wrong. In fact, some of them can be a waste of cash (and time) if you're already using other products that serve a similar purpose.

If you're truly worried about the delicate skin under your eyes, he suggests speaking with your dermatologist, who can prescribe a pharmaceutical-grade option that uses high-quality ingredients. "Your dermatologist can provide prescription products like Retin-A or others aimed at your specific condition," he explains. "You'll get the best results and save both time and money."

RELATED: These 11 Eye Creams Will Actually Make a Difference, According to Dermatologists

06 of 08

What is causing my acne?

Not everyone overcomes their acne angst in their 20s—or 30s or 40s. In fact, many suffer from breakouts throughout their lifetime, and what causes them shifts with age. As Dr. Pierre puts it, acne is multi-factorial, and our hormones are a major contributor.

From clogs in oil glands that lead to inflammation to whiteheads, blackheads, and beyond; it's important to discuss with your dermatologist what's happening. They can determine the best solution based on your lifestyle and age. Dr. Pierre reminds acne suffers that clear skin is on the horizon, but you have to be honest with your derm to get there.

RELATED: 8 Things That Might Be Causing Your Adult Acne—and How to Deal (Without Making It Worse)

07 of 08

Are there any new technologies or procedures for skin maintenance?

Dermatologists are always studying new ways to address skin issues. What wasn't available five years ago—or even one year—may be in the works now. Rather than settling, explore what could be a game changer for you in the new year.

That's why Dr. Ginsberg suggests asking your derm about the latest discoveries, technologies, and treatments. "These include creams, injectables, lasers, and more. You might be able to treat wrinkles, redness, dark spots, and fat with growingly less invasive and less painful options, often with little to no downtime," he says.

08 of 08

How does my diet affect my skin?

Some foods don't agree with your stomach, causing uncomfortable cramps and bloating. Well, some foods aren't good news for your skin either.

According to Dr. Pierre, your diet could be to blame if you keep experiencing breakouts. "Research has shown that high glycemic index foods can trigger acne in susceptible individuals. These foods cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels which can stimulate inflammation leading to acne," he explains.

Common culprits are dairy, gluten, fast food, fried foods, and chocolate, to name a few. "Some patients eat all the foods on this list and have great skin," Dr. Pierre says, "others avoid all these foods yet still suffer with acne." A dermatologist can guide you through various elimination diets or tests to adapt your meal plans for better skin.

RELATED: The Best Foods for Every Skin Condition—Whether You're Dull, Dry, or Irritated

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