If you live in a rural area, you're probably used to having to wait weeks to see a dermatologist. It may seem normal to you, but the delay is actually because of an alarming shortage of dermatologists in this country. Recent studies have estimated that there are about 3.3 derms per every 100,000 people.
While self-diagnosing serious conditions such as melanoma or skin cancer isn't advisable, you probably don't want to wait three weeks to talk to a doctor about a breakout you're having right now. Luckily, there are a few hardworking apps that can empower you to smartly treat your skin.
After clearing up a young patient's acne in 2013, Dr. David Lortscher was disappointed to hear that the woman thought dermatologists were just for "rich people." In response, this family business — Dr. Lortscher's first employees were his mother and brother — was born. To use it, download the Curology app, snap a photo of your problem area, and answer a skin survey. You'll be paired with a professional who will help diagnose your problem and send a "Superbottle" full of product to target it. The brand says it has an 88 percent success rate, but if the app doesn't work in 90 days, you can get a full refund.
Mt. Sinai's Dr. Ellen Marmur created MMSkincare to provide personalized skincare routines for on-the-go patients. Much like Curology, you'll upload a selfie and take a 10-minute survey about your concerns, and then the app will shoot over a list of the Marmur Metamorphosis products it thinks would help. The dermatologist's line includes serums and masks that target problem areas such as acne, rosacea, inflammation, dryness, and wrinkles.
More than 30,000 patients have turned to First Derm, a TalkSpace-esque app that pairs you with a dermatologist. Instead of waiting up to a month to see a doctor IRL, you can snap a photo of your condition and wait for a derm to get back to you within 24 hours. This information will cost you — consultations start at around $30 — but it's much more affordable than $120, which First Derm claims is the national average price per office visit.
Even if you have a dermatologist that you love, you can't always squeeze in an appointment at the very last minute. Spruce is a care messenger app that allows you to chat with doctors and physician's assistants during off-duty moments such as nights and weekends. This option works great for asking questions about minor skin concerns. After chatting on Spruce, you may need to schedule an in-person follow-up appointment to treat your actual concern. That said, this is a great resource that will give you peace of mind if you just need to know what's going on with your skin ASAP.