Dermatologist’s treat a plethora of skin conditions, including: eczema, rosacea, acne, psoriasis and skin cancer. Some patients visit the office voicing one concern, while others are experiencing multiple skin abnormalities or irritations. There are several things, you can do, that will make your visit run smoothly and help to get to the root of your condition efficiently. Below are nine things your dermatologist wants you to know!
1. Make a List: Take some time to think about your symptoms and concerns and write them down. For example, if you have an itchy, patch of dry skin, document the details surrounding it. How long have you had it? Has it spread to other areas? Have you noticed any foods that seem to aggravate it? What skin care products are you using? Have you switched your detergent recently? By providing the history and details of your concern, this helps us to provide a more accurate diagnoses and rule out certain causes and conditions.
2. Have Realistic Expectations: Have realistic expectations and don’t expect overnight results! For example, if you come into the office for acne and your doctor prescribes you a medicated wash or cream, don’t apply it before bed and expect that you are going to wake up the next morning acne free. The skin doesn’t work that way. A proper skin care regimen and moisturizing routine are critical to seeing the results you are after and with that, it will take a little time to achieve.
3. Tell Me Everything You are Using: Make a list of any and all prescription and over the counter medications, vitamins and supplements you are actively taking. Bag your hygiene products, including: soaps, lotions, cosmetics, shampoos and any other skin care items and bring them into the office. Your dermatologist may be able to identify any skin irritants or allergens you’re applying to your skin, by taking a look at the labels and ingredient lists.
4. Watch Closely for Changes: Be on the lookout for signs of skin cancer! If you have a spot or mole that is changing in size, color, or is bleeding and painful, make an appointment with your dermatologist immediately. While many skin spots are benign, others can be a malignant sign of melanoma (a deadly form of skin cancer). Don’t wait or dismiss even subtle changes. Melanoma can be treated, if caught early enough.
5. Take it All Off: Despite the fact your rash is on your arm, there may be other lesions or skin abnormalities on your body that the doctor needs to examine. The rash may merely be a symptom of a bigger skin concern. Rather than trying to lift your shirt or remove your pants during the examination, consider wearing a gown from the start. If the doctor notices any warning signs that leads to further examination of other surfaces of the skin, this will make it much easier and less awkward for both of you during the visit.
6. Internal Possibilities: You may be amazed to learn, that nearly every health condition can show signs on your skin! Some of these conditions, include: thyroid disease, autoimmune disorders, stress and not getting adequate amounts of sleep. Your dermatologist will be able to evaluate this for you and point you in the direction of other specialists or your primary care physician, if they believe there to be an underlying internal health concern.
7. Not All Skin Care is Created Equally: Many skin care products and cosmetics are toxic with known skin irritants and allergens! Just because it is packaged for the skin, doesn’t mean that it is good for it. Educate yourself on common skin allergens, irritants, toxins and chemicals that many “skin care” products are formulated with. By being aware of potentially damaging ingredients, you will be mindful to avoid them. Visit our list of harmful toxins and allergens to learn more about what to look for on the label!
If you are not sure where to begin, find a dermatologist local to you and visit their website. Check for any reviews or recommendations on the site. Look for an MD or DR who’s board certified in dermatology. This means they have received advanced education and have undergone special training and testing required to properly diagnose and treat skin conditions.