frequently asked questions

When to see a dermatologist.

When experiencing a skin condition like a rash, is it alright to see a general practitioner, or should a patient go right to a dermatologist?

General practitioners are the first line of defense. They should be able to treat simple rashes like mild to moderate eczema, or skin infection or scabies. If the rash persists or becomes more severe, then it is advisable for the GP to refer to a dermatologist.

What are some signs that a patient needs to seek out a dermatologist urgently?

As a general rule, there are very few dermatological emergencies. Consider seeing a dermatologist more urgently when an area of skin appears really bad, or when you have a diagnosis dilemma, that is, after seeing multiple GPs who have given multiple diagnosis which have yet had no improvement to your skin condition. Also see a dermatologist when you suspect you may have a severe drug allergic reaction.

Are there any serious, or life-threatening skin conditions?

There aren’t many dermatological emergencies that are life-threatening or critical. However, Steven Johnson Syndrome/ Toxic Epidermonecrolysis is a severe allergic reaction to certain drugs, especially antiepileptic and gout medication. It causes generalized peeling of the skin, leaving erosion. These can also affect the mouth, nose, genital and anal area. Other dermatology emergencies include Generalized Pustular Psoriasis, Acute Erythroderma, Severe Pemphigus/ Pemphigoid, drug reaction with eosinophilia and system symptoms (DRESS), and generalized bullous fixed drug eruption.

What are some of the issues that may arise from not seeking proper dermatological help?

Jumping from one doctor to another without getting any better. Developing side effects from medications due to unregulated use. Being influenced/ brainwashed by social media posts regarding skin diseases and unproven treatments.

What are some conditions that people don’t know are treated by dermatologists?

Sexually transmitted infections (STI), leprosy, aesthetics, hair and nail disorders.

Should I be consulting a dermatologist about cracked heels and calluses on my feet?

Dermatologists treat cracked heels and calluses, and can help to rule out concurrent fungal infections. A dermatologist can also remove calluses under aseptic techniques (scraping/cryotherapy), and prescribe salicylic acids.

Skincare routines and skin treatment.

How do I find the best skincare products and routine for myself?

Essentially, skin care should be simple and targeted to each person’s problem areas. You could also check with your dermatologist on your next visit.

What kind of skincare routine does a teenager need?

Teenagers need very individualized treatment. It is not just the same for all teens. Teens generally require a gentle face wash and sunscreen. Toner is optional, and moisturizers depend on skin type. It is best to see a dermatologist who can assess the skin of the teenaged patient and give appropriate advice.

How do I take care of ageing skin?

Ageing is a process no one can avoid. The best anti-ageing is sun protection. Part of the ageing process of the skin is the loss of natural moisturizing, causing skin to be more dry, and further increasing the risk of eczema. Hence, for this reason, moisturizing is important. Other ageing signs can be treated either topically or physically, depending on one’s need. It is best to consult a dermatologist for a personal assessment.

Is there a way to bring back skin elasticity which has been lost due to menopause?

Moisturizing and using creams with retinol, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, lasers, and hormone replacement therapy are some ways to regain elasticity. It’s best to consult with a dermatologist before any treatment begins.

Products and procedures.

What does it mean when products are ‘dermatologically tested’? Does that mean it is safe for all skin types?

A dermatologically tested product means the product has been tested on human skin, the formula was found to be safe when applied on skin, and it was tolerated by the persons who tested it on their skin. The recommended way of testing is by repeatedly applying the product on human skin (on the same area). In Malaysia, if such a safety claim is to be made, it has to be supported by adequate evidence, and appropriate human testing is necessary rather than animal testing. There is a guideline available for control of cosmetic products in Malaysia (under NPRA).

What kind of cosmetic or beauty procedure should we avoid getting done by beauticians?

No beautician should do any invasive and laser procedures. If you are offered double eyelid surgery, injections or a laser performed by a beautician in a non-clinic setting, please do not do it. It is better to be safe than sorry. Always consult a Board-Certified and recognized dermatologist before any such procedures.