Six tips to get the most out of your dermatology visit!
October 28, 2020
At Clear Dermatology, our goal is to make sure you have the most comprehensive visit with our team. Please review the six tips below and let us know if you have any questions.
- Gather your medical information and visit our online patient portal to enter these details directly into your electronic medical record. This portal will help you make a list of your current and past medical diagnoses, surgical procedures, family history, and current medications (including herbal supplements and vitamins). Skin problems are not just “skin deep” and often reflect internal medical and genetic issues or can be side effects of medications. Be specific about any past skin cancer diagnoses, such as how they were treated, who did the treatment, and what year this occurred. Note any family history of skin cancer as this can indicate your personal risk of developing cancer yourself. Compiling all of this information in advance will ensure a very productive and comprehensive visit. Doing this online on our patient portal means you do not have to fill out a medical history form upon arrival to our office.
- Get your test results in advance. If you have had skin biopsies in the past, bring a copy of the pathology report. If you have had any lab tests or imaging that could be related to your skin problem, bring those results as well. This may require requesting your records to be sent from the physician who performed the test. As dictated by the HIPPA privacy law, patients must sign a “release of medical information form” for their records to be sent to your new physician. Often one needs to call the office where the record is located and request the form and state where the information needs to be sent. Usually the easiest way to transfer this information is by fax. Our fax number is 832-772-3332. Once received by our office, this information will be scanned into your electronic chart (which is created immediately upon setting up an appointment) and will be ready for us to review at the time of your visit. This level of preparation ensures that we embark on the correct treatment path or best diagnostic strategy.
- Make a written list of the top 2-3 issues you would like to prioritize. This ensures that time is used wisely during your visit and that your most important issues are addressed. This list can be as simple as “what is this spot on my leg?” to as complicated as “what treatment options are available for my difficult diagnosis?” If this is a visit for a new issue or you are a new patient, think about the following questions: When did this start? Is this the first episode? Are there any associated symptoms? What seems to make it better? What makes it worse? What treatments have you tried (including over-the-counter and herbal remedies)? How much does this bother you? How is this affecting your life? Has a biopsy been done? If you think this is medication-related, how long have you been on each of your medications and how does this relate to the onset of the problem? Organizing your thoughts will help you relay a clear and accurate story and ensure that no details are missed. Also, feel free to bring pictures (digital or printed) of how the problem has progressed.
- Speak up. Be direct, honest, and as specific as possible when recounting your symptoms or expressing your concerns. Many patients are reluctant or embarrassed to talk about their issues, which makes it more difficult for us to interpret what is transpiring. It is also a good idea to bring a family member or friend to your appointment. They can help you ask questions, listen to our discussion, and give you support.
- Bring your skin products with you. Together we can review active ingredients, expiration dates, application strategies, and potential allergens. Sometimes treatments may not work well because they are applied incorrectly, expired, or wrong for the problem being treated. Instead of guessing what you are using, it is much easier to have the product in hand and know what it is exactly. This includes collecting past or current prescriptions used to treat the problem and saves you from needing to call your pharmacy for drug information.
- And finally, try not to pick or scratch your problem skin. This is easier said than done when it comes to an itchy situation. But scratching and picking changes the appearance of a rash or a spot and can make it more challenging to evaluate clinically. If all that remains is a sore, it is very difficult to know what was present beforehand. Even a biopsy may not be as helpful or as accurate on a sore compared to the initial lesion.
If you have any additional questions, please feel free to call us at 832.772.3330. We look forward to your visit!
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I really liked the suggestion to write down the issues and questions you’d like addressed during your visit beforehand. I find it difficult to remember specific questions in the moment, and I usually leave places less-informed than I ought to be. In the case of visiting a dermatologist, I can see why this would be especially important since it would allow you to be able to be educated on how to help you issues at home.
I like the idea to make a list of your concerns before visiting a dermatologist. I happen to be very self conscious about acne and my scars. I definitely think that I should speak with a professional about potential cosmetic procedures that could help to clear everything up.
Thanks for the tip about bringing pictures on your phone of the condition to show the dermatologist how it has progressed since the last visit. My husband has a small dark spot on his knee that he wants to have checked out, but he has a hard time telling if it has grown or not. Taking pictures to monitor the progress would be a good way to track any changes and show the dermatologist.
I appreciate your advice on making a list of things that you want to make sure that you talk about with your dermatologist. Sometimes you can get carried away thinking all sorts of things are wrong, but it is smart to prepare beforehand to talk about your top priority issues and make the most of your time at the dermatologist. Next time I visit one, I will be sure to take your advice and prepare with test results and questions beforehand.
I’ve recently noticed a rather large mole on my back that is a rather dark color and is a little raised. I’m worried that it’s skin cancer, so I’d like to find someone who could confirm that and give me a good treatment. Thanks for pointing out that when I find a dermatologist I should make sure to make a list of questions I have to organize my thoughts so that I can make the most out of my visit.
Great Tips about bringing pictures on your phone of the condition to show the dermatologist how it has progressed since the last visit. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for reminding me that I should be direct, honest, and as specific as possible when it comes to describing my symptoms and current condition to my potential dermatologist. It’s really hard to find time between household chores and five children who all go to school, but I still don’t want to neglect the rashes that kept on appearing on certain parts of my body. It might be better if I can find a clinic that offers virtual appointment so I’ll know what to do before the actual visit.
I like that you said that you can be sure that your most important issues are going to be addressed when you make a written list of your top 2-3 issues. This is something that I will consider because I have been experiencing acne issues for the past few weeks. None of my solutions ever worked, so I want to see a dermatologist within the week.
Its good that you reminded if you have had skin biopsies in the past, bring a copy of the pathology report. My aunt wants to visit the dermatologist because her eczema is getting more severe. Thanks for the article and I will forward it to my aunt so that she can get a good dermatologist for herself.
I appreciate that you mentioned listing all the issues you have with your skin to help the dermatologist understand my situation. My sister and I will go to our first dermatology appointment next week, and we want to stay prepared for it. I’ll share this with her later to help with the appointment. Thanks!
I found it helpful when you said that you could be sure that your time is going to be used wisely when you write the top issues that you would like to address when you visit a dermatologist. My sister has been complaining about persistent blushing in the central part of her face as well as the burning sensation it brings. I will ask her to do your tips since she wants to confirm if she indeed needs treatment for rosacea.