If you’re questioning whether or not a dermatologist is your best bet for relief, you already know it’s time to go. Most of us experience skin irritations of one kind or another over the years. While many issues can be successfully treated with over-the-counter (OTC) meds or home remedies, there comes a time to trust the experts.

Dermatologists are the skin, hair, and nail specialists of the medical world. With thousands of skin conditions out there, it’s wise to visit a dermatologist if you experience any of the following for an extended period of time:

Painful Acne

All acne is not created equal. Excess sebum and bacteria can wreak havoc on our skin, and not just when we’re teenagers. Mild acne is a normal occurrence at different life stages and clears up relatively easily with good hygiene and OTC products. When acne appears to spread, is large and inflamed or cystic in nature, the dermatologist has access to treatments you cannot find in the store.

Redness, Itching and Rashes

Eczema, psoriasis and rosacea are three of the most common culprits, though there are multiple others.

Eczema is the name given to numerous chronic inflammatory skin conditions. It’s time to see the dermatologist if you have red, swollen patches of dry, itchy skin that don’t respond well to OTC creams and lotions.

Psoriasis shows up as thick, silvery scales called plaques. The immune system kicks into overdrive in some people and causes skin cells to grow too fast. Dermatologists can help control the symptoms.

Rosacea takes blushing to the next level. It’s a chronic skin condition that can cause redness, swelling and skin bumps that mimic acne. Hot, sunny, cold, or windy days may trigger rosacea. Indoor triggers include alcohol, stress, and spicy foods. Your dermatologist can help devise a plan to lessen the impact of many common triggers and explore management options.

Signs of Infection

As gross as it sounds, it should be evident pus is not your friend. Red swollen areas with streaks or pus present need to be checked out by a dermatologist so the infection can be treated before it becomes dangerous.

Hair Loss

Hair loss can be inherited or caused by a myriad of health issues. Pregnancy and stress can also cause hair loss that may or may not be permanent. If you have excess hair loss that shows no indication of resolving on its own, your trusty neighborhood dermatologist can offer solutions.

Unusual Growths

Skin cancer is a very real threat. If any moles or growths begin changing size, shape, texture or color, it’s time to see an expert. In fact, any spots that scab over, get crusty or itchy, or bleed for no identifiable reason should be checked as well. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.