Despite incredibly demanding schedules – work, your boys and the fam can keep you running on a 100 most of the time – you still make the time to see your doctor and dentist at least once a year (if you’re not, then you need to read this ASAP). And while you probably haven’t thought to include the dermatologist on your list of yearly health appointments, it’s about time you start. As your body’s largest organ, your skin needs to be evaluated by a doc at least once a year just like the rest of your body. If you don’t believe us, or are a more numbers kind of guy consider this, the skin cancer morbidity and mortality rates are disproportionately higher in Blacks and Hispanics. Furthermore, the 5-year survival rate of melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, is only 74.1% for Blacks compared to 92.9% for whites; something a dermatologist is trained to not only catch but also treat.

So to help you navigate the ins-and-outs of the dermatologist we chatted with our good friend Dr. Carlos A. Charles, founder of Derma di Colore a dermatological practice that specializes in treating deeper skin tones, to breakdown the what, when, and more importantly why you should schedule your first (or second) dermatologist appointment.

What’s a Dermatologist

Before even going any further, it’s important to understand exactly what a dermatologist is and what they are not. A dermatologist isn’t someone who sits in a spa and performs facials all day. Instead, they are trained doctors (yes they attend medical school) who specializes in the skin, hair and nails. Dr. Charles explains that due to their rigorous and extensive medical school training, dermatologists are more equipped to “understand the relationship and correlation to what we’re seeing on the skin to what’s going on internally; something most aestheticians don’t do.” Furthermore, “dermatologists also have an acute understanding of the physiology of the skin and are trained to look out for things like incidental skin cancer or finding a rash that might point to something internally,” Dr. Charles explains. So while indulging in a facial is nice from time to time, if you’re the of kind guy that likes to #treatyoself, it’s definitely not the same as sitting in the derm’s chair.

When Should You Book Your First Appointment

When it comes to booking your first appointment, there’s no time like the present. “Once you’re hitting your mid-twenties and early-thirties, it’s a good idea to just come in,” says Dr. Charles. As part of a healthy preventative lifestyle, it’s important to schedule (and keep) a yearly appointment with a dermatologist.

Why Visiting the Derm’s Office Once a Year is So Important

The most obvious reason to book an appointment is when a few mysterious bumps pop-up out of nowhere or a random rash shows up after your latest trip overseas. But even if your skin, hair and nails seem totally normal, it’s still important to visit the derm’s office. “I think everyone should get a baseline check with a dermatologist, similar to if you’d go see your primary physician, to make sure everything looks okay,” the doctor explains.

Despite the alarming stat referenced above, “skin cancer, when caught early, is very treatable and pretty easy to take care of, which is why you want to start visiting the dermatologist,” says Dr. Charles.

One thing worth considering before hopping in the chair, is that it’s important to seek a doctor that specializes in treating deeper skin tones such as Derma di Colore. “Skin cancer [and other skin diseases] often times presents itself in really weird ways, such as on the palms and soles and the nail beds, in darker skin,” making it imperative that whoever treats your skin knows exactly how and what to look for. A quick Google search or phone call beforehand is your best bet to ensure you’re in the right hands.

Words by Siraad Dirshe
Photography by Aundre Larrow