How Best To Prep for Your Dermatology VisitApr 10, 2023
The wait is over and your general dermatology appointment is finally here! Some of you may have been eagerly anticipating this visit for weeks or even months. To ensure that your visit is impactful and beneficial, let's discuss some ways in which you can make the most of your time with the dermatologist.
1) Do your homework
First things first, do your homework! Did you know that your past medical and surgical history could affect your skin health? It might sound surprising, but it's true! That's why it's crucial to keep your dermatologist up to date on any new medical diagnoses or surgeries you've had.
Also, don’t forget to inform us if any of your immediate family members have recently been diagnosed with melanoma.
2) Bring a list of your current medications
It’s essential to inform your dermatologist about all the medications you're currently taking, including any supplements and over-the-counter products. To make sure that no crucial information is missed out, it's a good idea to jot down all the details on a sheet of paper or Word document, which can be updated and revised as needed.
Some medications can weaken your immune system, increase your risk of bleeding, heighten your sensitivity to sunlight, and even increase your likelihood of developing skin cancer. Therefore, it's important that your dermatologist is aware of all the medications you take on a regular basis.
3) Arrive on time
Arriving on time, or even a little early, is a good idea especially if you haven't completed your paperwork in advance. We, as dermatologists, typically have a busy schedule with several patients to see in a day, and even a single late patient can cause delays that can quickly snowball.
While we do our best to respect the time of all our patients, we understand that there may be times when we run behind schedule as well. Please rest assured that when we attend to you, we give you our undivided attention, even if it means that we're running a little late!
4) Wear little or no makeup
It’s best to avoid heavy makeup and other cosmetic products as that could make it difficult to detect subtle skin changes and skin lesions. Opt for a hairstyle that allows your dermatologist to see your scalp clearly and to skip nail polish, especially if you have concerns about your nails!
If you are seeing your dermatologist for a skin check, plan on getting undressed. Skin cancers can occur ANYWHERE that you have skin so a thorough exam does require you to be undressed. And here's something we hear often, but isn't something you have to worry about: shaving your legs! We don't expect you to shave before the exam, and it doesn't impact our ability to conduct a thorough skin check. So please don't feel pressured to shave beforehand.
5) Make a list of your concerns
One of the most important things to do is identifying your top 1-2 concerns ahead of time and sharing them with your dermatologist at the beginning of your visit. This ensures that your top concerns are addressed in a timely manner, and that you won't run out of time towards the end of the visit. Once you've shared your concerns with your dermatologist, make sure you understand the plan for addressing them.
If you aren't given written instructions, write them down yourself to ensure that you remember everything. Also, make sure to repeat the plan back to your dermatologist to ensure that both of you are on the same page!
Finally, don't hesitate to ask your dermatologist any questions you may have. Your dermatologist is your advocate and coach for all your skin, hair and nail concerns. For more great tips on how to make the most of your medical dermatology visit, check out my latest podcast with Dr. Natalie Nasser where we discuss this in detail!
A new podcast episode is released every Monday morning.