There are hundreds of known skin diseases in the United States. There are thousands more around the world.
For every skin disease, there are a number of websites that provide information about that disease. These websites show photos and explain warning signs and symptoms with the goal of educating the public.
Some of these websites are more reputable than others, and many are published by medical professionals who don’t necessarily specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of skin disease.
Many people make the mistake of self-diagnosing based on a photo they saw or information they read online. If the photo or information doesn’t match what someone sees on their skin, the natural assumption is that they don’t have the disease.
Diagnosing and Treating Skin Disease Is Not a Do-It-Yourself Task
It’s one thing to go on a home improvement website and learn how to fix a leaky pipe under the kitchen sink. It’s another to go on a website like WebMD and try to determine if you have a life-threatening skin disease.
If it was that easy, dermatologists wouldn’t spend four years in medical school, a year in internship, and three years in specific dermatology training and residency. They wouldn’t be required to pass a comprehensive examination to become board certified and complete ongoing training to maintain that certification.
This is the kind of education and hands-on training you need to call yourself a dermatologist. That’s why a dermatologist is capable of noticing the subtle differences or similarities between an online photo and something on your skin.
There Is No Substitute for Expertise
As Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his book Blink, 10,000 hours of practice gives an expert the ability to see something and know what it is in the blink of an eye.
When you’re driving and see a six-sided red sign, you don’t have to read it. You know what that sign means without thinking about it. A dermatologist brings the same level of experience and insight to treating and diagnosing skin disease.
Related: Service Costs
We can tell you quickly if there is reason for concern and spot warning signs that you might have missed.
Because early detection of skin disease is so important, the cost of misdiagnosing yourself can be life-changing. It can dramatically alter your outlook for recovery and how the skin disease can be treated.
We encourage all of our patients to educate themselves and use the wealth of information available online. Educate yourself, but leave the diagnosing to a board certified dermatologist.
Dr. R. Todd Plott is a board-certified dermatologist in Coppell, Keller, and Saginaw, TX. His specialization and professional interests include treating patients suffering with acne, identifying and solving complex skin conditions such as psoriasis, rosacea, atopic dermatitis, and identifying and treating all types of skin cancers. In his spare time, Dr. Plott enjoys cycling, traveling with his wife, and spending time with his children and new grandson.
Learn more about Dr. Plott.