Skin ailments of all kinds plague people of varying ages and backgrounds. It is not enough to have the first dermatologist you come across assess your problem and treat you. Or even to arbitrarily pick one who’s a part of your PPO. There are a few things you should seriously consider before entrusting your skin health to a health-care provider. Ask the following 4 questions of your dermatologist to qualify his or her expertise.

1) What is your board certification?

Maybe you don’t need to ask him or her this question directly. This is something you should easily be able to track down on the Internet. And, worst case scenario, when you go in for a first-time visit, scan the walls for that framed diploma. It should proudly state that this doctor is certified by the American Board of Dermatology. This tells the patient that the doctor is qualified—has had the proper education, experience, and testing—to practice dermatological medicine.

2) Do you have a specialization within dermatology?

Some skin disorders, like acne and rosacea, are not harmful or dangerous but often cause cosmetic displeasure. Other illnesses, such as skin cancer, are potentially harmful and require a different type of care and attention. It is important to be sure that your dermatologist is skilled within the niche of treatment you require. Some specialties include:

  • -Immunodermatology
  • -Dermopathology
  • -Cosmetic dermatology
  • -Mohs surgery
  • -Pediatric dermatology

3) Can I see some examples of your past work?

If you cannot find this information on the Internet, it is okay to ask the dermatologist or an assistant in office for examples of past work; especially if your treatment is cosmetic. If you’re having laser skin resurfacing, scar removal, acne treatment, etc. it is vital to see before and after pictures and videos of prior patients. This will give you a good idea of the doctors range of skill, success, and consistency.

4) What are your previous patients saying about you?

This is something you will probably need to find on the Internet in order to get an objective answer. There are plenty of forums and blogs where patients tell of their good and bad experiences with a doctor. Before any major treatment with a dermatologist, scan these forums, or even post a question yourself, to find out if this doctor is the right choice. Some treatments cannot be undone, so you must learn from other peoples’ mistakes (and successes).