Stop Fooling The Dermatologist

How do you prepare for a dermatology appointment?

DERMATOLOGY When you wake up in the morning, you take care of some necessary business which includes washing your face and perhaps shampooing your scalp. If you have seborrhea dermatitis, psoriasis or eczema, the ritual may include skin exfoliation and application of prescribed creams.

This day is special, though. You have scheduled a visit to the dermatologist. So you make certain you're groomed well enough for close examination. Get dressed. Grab your insurance card, ID and money for your co-payment.

Did You Really Prepare For the Visit?

Now let's dissect the problems with this typical routine. A dermatology (or any doctor's) appointment is atypical when compared to your daily hygiene regimen. Exfoliation and body oils may make you more presentable to the general public but now you must try to describe an appearance that differs from what you are presenting to the physician.

Your dermatologist may ask: “Is the condition getting better, worse or is it about the same?” You ponder, ‘It still bothers me but I'm not certain if it's better or worse.’ Now, how would you answer: “Are there any new lesions?” Good question. ‘I didn't check.’ Or, ‘Yes. I noticed some flaking here but you can't see it now since I scrubbed it clean before arriving.’

Do you leave the office with more questions than you came with?

The dermatologist makes some notes in your file and asks if you need refills for your prescriptions before directing you to the receptionist to finalize paperwork. In the elevator, you remember an important question you meant to ask. Now it's too late. If you leave the office with more questions than you came with or feel the dermatologist missed something, chances are you didn't prepare well enough.

Of course you want to smell nice and wipe the crust from your eyes but now you realize that altering the appearance of lesions prior to a dermatology visit may not be the best idea (unless advised by physician). If you are one who shampoos after a haircut, it may be a good idea to get the cut a few days in advance of the dermatologist appointment. Just try not to primp yourself out of a diagnosis.

It is helpful to bring a list of questions. If this is a new dermatologist, a table of medications you have tried with associated reactions is wise. For other skin conditions, it is useful to prepare answers to additional anticipated questions. [1-3]

Tags: diagnosis, diagnostician, illness

References
  1. Preparing for your dermatologist visit. everydayhealth.com
  2. Preparing for a dermatology appointment. psoriasis.org
  3. Basal cell carcinoma: Preparing for your appointment. mayoclinic.com