Tips: What To Look For In A Dermatologist

Written by WD Staff, Skin Care Specialists on March 29, 2019 19 Comments

tips finding dermatologist

Dermatologists diagnose and treat more than 3,000 different diseases and conditions related to the skin, hair, nails, and mucous membranes (the lining inside the eyelids, nose, and mouth).  A dermatologist is specially qualified to treat a variety of conditions including acne, eczema, psoriasis, rashes, rosacea, skin cancer, wrinkles, age spots, and hair loss. People of all ages, from newborns to those over 100 years of age, can often benefit from regularly seeing a skilled dermatologist.

In order to become a dermatologist, candidates must complete a minimum of 12 years of post-secondary education, including a minimum of 3 years in a dermatology residency program. This equates to a requirement of 12,000 to 16,000 patient hours.

Unfortunately, not all dermatologists are created equal. Finding the right dermatologist for your needs requires time and effort. It’s always a good idea to research any prospective physician online and/or solicit referrals from friends and family. In your quest for a new dermatologist make sure to pay attention to these six critical factors:

Board Certified

Choose a dermatologist that is board certified by the American Board of Dermatology. While technically any doctor with a medical degree can start a skin care practice, board certified dermatologists meet an additional set of education and experience criteria including:

  • Has a valid license to practice medicine
  • The completion of medical school, and internship, and an Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education – accredited dermatology residence program
  • Passed the exams given by the American Board of Dermatology, American Osteopathic Board of Dermatology, or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada

The easiest way to know if a dermatologist is board certified is to perform a search on the American Academy of Dermatology website: .

Consider the Need for Specialization

Some board certified dermatologists complete additional education and training in order to specialize in areas like Mohs surgery, dermatopathology, or pediatric dermatology. Such additional fellowship training can be extremely valuable when it comes to properly treating certain conditions. Patients who know they need a specific procedure should concentrate their search on dermatologists with additional fellowship training. Ask any candidate about their history performing the procedure including complications.

Bedside Manner

All patients deserve a dermatologist that they feel comfortable with. This means finding a dermatologist with a communication style and personality that works with yours. When reading reviews or soliciting referrals form friends ask if visits feel rushed. A good dermatologist will take the time to fully address your concerns and explain all the treatment options.

After Hours Care

It’s important for patients to always be able to reach out to their dermatologist after office hours, during evening and on weekends. Many dermatologists will offer on-call or answering services to handle any emergencies like allergic reactions. You should never feel left in the dark on the weekend or after hours on weekdays.


Lastly, yet importantly, to limit any out-of-pocket “surprise bills” make sure that any prospective dermatologist qualifies as a provider in your current health care insurance policy. Make sure to check the status of the provider with your health insurance company directly.  Also be sure to obtain a referral from your primary care physician if your insurance plans requires this, as a dermatologist is considered a specialist.

WD Staff

A united group of skin care specialists from Westlake Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery, Austin's leader in Dermatology and Plastic Surgery. Articles posted under WD staff are authored through combined contributions from our entire team, including Plastic Surgeons, Dermatologists, Aestheticians, Physician Assistants, Aesthetic Nurses, and Patient Coordinators.

19 Responses to “Tips: What To Look For In A Dermatologist”

  1. Avatar Adrian says:

    I like how you mentioned that looking for a dermatologist might mean that you have to look for a specialist since there are highly-specific branches in the dermatological field, so it’s important to know what exact service you need. Another thing people need to keep in mind is looking for after-hours care since you might need to reach out to your dermatologist and then ask them about something that’s suddenly afflicting you. Great post!

  2. Avatar Dr. Campbell says:

    Always choose a dermatologist that is certified by the American Board of Dermatology!!! I couldn’t have said this better, thanks for educating the public!

  3. Avatar Hazel says:

    That’s good to know that you should look for a dermatologist that offers on-call services after hours in case you have an allergic reaction. This is helpful since my daughter’s skin is allergic to all cosmetics, so we want to get her tested to see what’s causing the reactions. We’ll have to find a dermatologist that can give her something to help and that will be available if we need them in case she has another reaction to what she’s given.

  4. Avatar Jocelyn says:

    My acne has been getting worse over the years, and your article had some great tips for choosing a doctor that could help me with this issue. I liked how you said to choose a service that offers after hour care, even on weekends and evenings, in case of an emergency. Thanks; I’ll keep this in mind when hiring a dermatologist.

  5. Avatar Lisa says:

    I live in Katy, TX and would like to know if you could refer a top dermatologist such as yourself. Thanks again for providing so much information.

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Lisa,

      Unfortunately we don’t have any partner derms in Katy at this time, so we do not have anyone specific to refer you to. We would just recommend doing research to find a current board certified dermatologist who is currently in good standing with the Texas State Medical Board (you can go to to look up the current standing of a medical license in Texas). Asking friends or family for recommendations is also a great way to find a dermatologist.

      We are coming to Houston later this year. Hopefully we’ll be in Katy in the near future as well!

      WD Staff

  6. Avatar Skylar says:

    Thank you for your tip to make sure that the dermatologist is certified by the right board. I’ve noticed that I have a new mole and I’m not sure what it is. I’ll be sure to go to a properly certified dermatologist to get it checked out.

  7. Avatar Kate says:

    It was really helpful when you said that you should see if they have a valid license. I’m wanting to find one for some skin problems. Thank you for these tips on how to find a dermatologist!

  8. Avatar Jenna says:

    Would these tips also apply to finding a good plastic surgeon?

  9. Avatar Faylinn says:

    Always go board certified. Trust me guys, I had a bad experience with a non-certified. Wasn’t worth it!

  10. Avatar Eli says:

    Make sure your dermatologist is certified by the right board. Take it from me, I learned the hard way

  11. Avatar David says:

    Thanks for the tips. My son has some pretty bad acne and he’s going into high school. Was very helpful

  12. After hours care is very important especially for dermatological surgery like Mohs. Great post!

  13. Avatar Jenna says:

    Yes to making sure your derm has a valid license and is good standing in their state!

  14. Avatar Ron says:

    I’m glad you mention how a good doctor listens to your questions and does their best to answer them. This would be important to make sure you understand what is going on and to ensure that the dermatologist knows what they’re doing and can provide you with the services you’re looking for. When choosing a dermatologist, you’d probably want to research the different options online and create a list of questions so that when you meet them you can check how well they answer.

  15. Avatar Patrick says:

    def get with a board certified dermatologist

  16. Avatar rachel says:

    I’m quite insecure about the acne on my face, which is why I’m currently looking for a dermatologist. Thanks for the tips, going to look for a board-certified dermatologist.

  17. Avatar Alice says:

    Great point on the after hours services. There are times when I get allergic reactions from dust that would cause large rashes to appear on my skin. During times like that, I might need to go get professional help if the irritation becomes quite unbearable.

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