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The Dermatologist Demystified

We get it: A trip to the dermatologist can seem intimidating or even unnecessary when you’re already getting regular physical checkups. But here’s a big reason why it’s worth considering a visit to a skin M.D.: Melanoma (aka skin cancer) is the fifth most common type of cancer in the U.S., and it’s a disease found more commonly in men than women. The good news is that, when detected early, it's also one of the most treatable cancers, and your dermatologist can run routine checks. He or she can also identify and treat a slew of other skin ailments, from acne to eczema to tinea versicolor. We asked Dr. Derek Jones, a board certified dermatologist and founder of Skin Care and Laser Physicians of Beverly Hills for some pre-visit suggestions.

BB Man: What are the most important skincare concerns that a guy should keep on his radar?

Dr. Jones: The sun really devastates our skin—it chews away at collagen, makes brown spots and red blood vessels show up, and causes wrinkles. So the cornerstone of any skincare regimen for men is a good morning sunblock, with at least an SPF 30. Guys will tell me, “I’m not in the sun during the day, I’m a businessman and I work inside.” But studies show that we get the majority of our sun exposure going about our normal daily business.

If you doubt that, here’s a test you can do: Look at the hair-bearing part of your forearm and analyze the skin quality. Look at it for fine wrinkling, texture, or discoloration. Then turn it over and look at the smooth side of your arm. In almost 100 percent of people you’ll see a profound difference in skin quality.

The second thing is making sure to get good moisture for your skin—especially from October to March when it starts to get really dry. If you’re lazy, I’m a fan of using combination products with both sunblock and moisturizer in them. It’s really easy to do and will keep skin looking better and prevent itching.

BB Man: What's the most important thing a guy gets from a visit to the dermatologist?

Dr. Jones: A total body skin exam. You want a trained eye to look since melanoma caught early is perfectly curable. Melanoma picked up late is perfectly deadly.

BB Man: How often should guys be seeing their dermatologist?

Dr. Jones: At least once a year for a total body exam. Though we also like people to be looking at their own skin—especially your back, which is what people often miss. Get your spouse, partner, or friend to help. Remember the "ABCDE’s" when you’re looking yourself at a mole—Asymmetry, Borders that are irregular, uneven Color, Diameter (change in size), and Evolving (if a mole has changed recently).

BB Man: What’s the best way to find a doctor and get an appointment?

Dr. Jones: Most of my referrals are word of mouth, so talk to your friends. The main thing is that any dermatologist you see should be board certified by the American Board of Dermatology. Sometimes it can be hard to get an appointment with a dermatologist, so it may be easier to get an appointment with a doctor who operates out-of-network on insurance plans. If you want to stay in-plan though, go to your insurance provider’s book or website and choose from the list of doctors there.

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