Our skin works hard! It protects us from germs, dehydration and the sun’s harmful rays. Keeping the skin healthy requires more than gentle cleansing and using sunscreen each day. Experts recommend eating a diet of fruits, vegetables and lean protein along with drinking plenty of water to keep skin hydrated.

But skin problems can happen to the best of us. When over-the-counter treatments don’t work, it’s time to schedule an appointment with a dermatologist. Here are five common skin conditions that require a specialist’s care:

1. Unusual spots or moles
Even if you don’t have any visible skin problems, it’s important to see a dermatologist for skin cancer screenings. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, but it is highly treatable when detected early.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends performing a skin cancer self-exam to look for the following ABCDE warning signs of melanoma:

Asymmetry – one half of mole is unlike the other half
Border – irregular, scalloped or poorly defined border
Color – varied from one area to another, including shades of tan, brown and black
Diameter – greater than 6mm (the size of a pencil eraser)
Evolving – a mole or skin lesion that is changing in size, shape or color

2. Acne that won’t go away
Stubborn acne, cysts or nodules may not respond to medicine that can be purchased without a prescription. When untreated, acne can cause scarring, depression and low self-esteem. A dermatologist can prescribe a medication or office procedure that will help clear up stubborn acne and prevent new breakouts.

3. Sudden or excessive hair loss
Dermatologists specialize in treating the skin, nails and hair. If you notice thinning hair or bald patches on the scalp, visiting a dermatologist is probably a good idea. While it is normal to lose anywhere from 50-100 hairs a day, excessive hair loss can be a sign of disease. The good news is that most causes of hair loss can be successfully treated.

4. A rash that won’t heal
Rashes can have a variety of causes, including poison ivy, stress or allergies. Although most rashes are not life threatening, they could be a sign of something more serious like Lyme disease or lupus. If a rash is not easily treated with oral antihistamines or hydrocortisone cream, see a dermatologist.

5. Areas of rough, scaly skin
Persistent dry patches of skin on the knees, elbows or scalp might be more than dry skin. Psoriasis is a chronic disease that develops when the immune system sends signals telling skin cells to grow too quickly. Because the body cannot shed skin cells fast enough, they build up and cause scaly-looking patches of psoriasis to appear. A dermatologist can work with patients to reduce symptoms and manage their impact.

Skin often reflects the overall health of the body. A dermatologist can discover the cause of skin problems and help select the best treatment. If you have concerns about any of the conditions above, make an appointment today!