MAXIMIZE YOUR DERMATOLOGY VISIT: DOs AND DON’Ts FOR PREPARING FOR YOUR VISIT?
By Rawn Bosley, MD FAAD
Skin concerns are an ever-present issue for many of us. Though there are many recommendations found online and in-print for your hair, skin and nails, I am always in favor of seeking expert advice from a Board-certified dermatologist to address your skin care needs. Whether you have had experience with a dermatologist in the past or are being referred from your primary care doctor, these tips should prepare you for your next dermatology visit.
“I want to see or have been referred to a dermatologist. Now what do I do?”
In most situations, if you are being referred from a primary care office, the office will refer you to someone inside of your insurance company’s coverage network. I recommend to potential patients to double-check their coverage and verify the insurance will cover your visit. Even if you are not being referred from a primary care office, I suggest visiting the dermatology office website or calling the office to verify that the dermatologist accepts your insurance or is “in-network” with your insurance company. Most insurers have a website that will tell you which offices will accept your insurance. By verifying your coverage, this will prevent you from not being able to be seen the day of the visit or receiving a large unexpected bill. It is also important to understand your insurance plan. Most insurance plans have varying co-payments or a co-insurance that you will be required to pay at your visit. Dermatologists are specialists and your insurance may require a different co-payment amount than when you visit your primary care physician. Additionally, you should understand how your plan’s deductible works. Knowing your deductible amount will help you understand if your insurance will pay for any procedures that may be performed at your dermatology visit.
The 4 P’s of Visit Planning: Proper Preparation Pleases Physicians!
There are some key advantages in this digital age that will allow your Dermatologist to make a better diagnosis. Photography is a huge asset for me and my patients. In the time between when you or your primary care physician decides you need to be seen by a dermatologist, try to take daily or weekly photos of your skin. For example, if you have a rash take regular photos so that your dermatologist can watch how the rash has progressed. Similarly, if you have a condition that comes and goes, such as Acne, snap a selfie on a good day as well as a bad skin day so your dermatologist can understand your skin better.
Photos can help in so many ways. Do you have a skin care routine or prescription medication that was prescribed prior to your dermatology visit? Take a photo of the labels so that you can share with your dermatologist. Make sure to take photos of the front and back labels. Dermatologist are usually curious to know what you are already using on your skin so understanding the contents and ingredients are helpful to us.
Make a concise list of your concerns and questions.
Though many patients will visit a dermatologist for a specific concern, others may have multiple skin issues to address with their dermatologist. Whether you have only one concern or you have many, I recommend to make a list of your concerns in the order of their importance to you. For some patients these list may contain multiple items. It is important to have the understanding that your dermatologist may not be able to fully address all of your concerns in one single visit. It is better to fully address two to three concerns rather than partially addressing all of your concerns. Focusing on the most important issues will improve your outcomes and overall experience with your dermatologist.
What should I wear (or not wear) to my dermatologist?
Your dermatologist may need to look beyond the area of your concern to fully address your skin needs. For example, rashes on the scalp may be associated with findings on your nails or a spot on the arm may be related to a spot on the back. For this reason, it is advised to wear loose, comfortable clothing. At times, your dermatologist may want to do a full body exam to evaluate your skin for concerning spots. Another common misconception about going to see a dermatologist is about wearing lotion and other skin moisturizers. It is perfectly acceptable to perform your normal daily grooming habits such as wearing sunscreen and moisturizers. Wearing these products will not prevent your dermatologist from examining your skin. To the contrary, make-up and nail polish may prevent your dermatologist from being able to fully examine your skin. It is advised to avoid wearing make-up and nail polish to your visit.
These tips should help make for a great experience with your dermatologist. If you have any questions prior to your visit, give your dermatologist’s office a call as the staff will be able to help prepare you for your visit.