Questions to Ask Your Dermatologist

You’re going to see a board certified dermatologist and you have a million questions.  What to ask the dermatologist, how can one help you, what skills should the doctor have? Find out the questions to ask your dermatologist, what skills to look for, and much more.

What Skills Do You Need to Become a Dermatologist?

Board certified dermatologists are doctors and need the same type of education as any medical doctor with specialized training and board certification. The basic education path is:

  • college graduate
  • medical school graduate
  • residency
  • board certification

What Can a Dermatologist Help Me With?

A dermatologist can help you with a host of skin, hair, and nail conditions. Additionally, these doctors perform cosmetic procedures that help with your appearance. Some of the conditions a dermatologist can help you with include:

  • hives
  • acne
  • rosacea
  • skin cancer
  • oily skin
  • rashes
  • eczema
  • melanoma
  • hair loss
  • cold sores
  • cysts
  • skin care
  • signs of aging
  • skin cancer
  • annual skin exam

This list is just a small sampling of the routine health concerns treated by dermatological specialists. If you are curious about your condition and whether or not they treat it, you can always call and ask your local dermatologist’s office.

How do I Prepare for a Dermatologist Appointment?

You’ve made your appointment to have your acne or other skin condition checked. Now you wonder how to prepare for the appointment. In many aspects, a dermatologist appointment is much like any other medical doctor’s appointment with just a little different preparation.

If you are being seen for a skin condition, make sure you are not wearing makeup and that your face is clean. Avoid creams and lotions as well. If you are going for a hair loss or other hair issue, don’t wear clips or bows in your hair and make sure it is clean. Remove nail polish if you are being seen for nails.

Unless you have been told otherwise, you don’t need to fast or do anything special for your appointment. Plan on arriving a little early to complete paperwork. Other than that, relax and let the doctor lead the way.

What do I Need to Bring to A Dermatologist Appointment?

Before going to your dermatologist appointment, take the time to gather the important information you will need to take. Your doctor is going to need a few things to help in making an accurate medical assessment.

  • Medical history: Make sure you have an accurate medical history to write down, not just history related to your dermatological issue. This helps the doctor make a diagnosis as many issues are co-related.
  • Prescriptions: Take a complete listing of medications including dosage, how often, and how long you have been on the medicine. If possible, take the bottles with you.
  • OTC: Make a list of all over-the-counter medications, vitamins, supplements, creams, and ointments. Include all lotions or serums you use on your skin.

Your doctor may have other routine questions to ask you, depending on the concerns being addressed and the treatments being provided.

What Does a Dermatologist Look For?

There are many different things your dermatologist will look for during your appointment, depending on the condition being treated.

  • skin lesions, bumps, or moles
  • changes in skin color
  • bald or thinning hair
  • sun damage
  • red patches
  • dry or oily skin
  • inflammation of the skin

These are a few of the obvious conditions that indicate there is a medical problem. Once the doctor has performed a physical assessment, there will be questions and possibly procedures to help make a diagnosis.

What Questions do Dermatologists Ask?

Before a diagnosis can be made, your doctor may have questions that will help shed some light on the problem. Some possible questions include:

  • Do you have a history of skin concern?
  • Have you changed or added medications before it started?
  • Is there any itching, burning, or other sensation?
  • Do you recall anything that might have triggered it – food, etc.?
  • Is there a family history of this?
  • What products have you tried at home?

Answer the questions as accurately and honestly as possible. The more information you can give the doctor, the better able he is to diagnose your condition.

What to Ask the Dermatologist

Now that the doctor has asked his questions, you should be ready to ask your own questions.  These are a few typical questions.

  • Is it treatable?
  • What are the treatment options?
  • How long will the condition last?
  • Will it recur?
  • What are the side effects of the medication?
  • How can I prevent this in the future?

If you are anxious about the visit, write down your questions before your appointment so that you don’t forget.

What is a Full Body Skin Exam?

If your doctor suggests a full body scan, don’t be alarmed.  This visual scan should be an annual skin exam that allows the doctor to look over all visible skin and under the hair to note any obvious bumps, moles, lesions, or other skin conditions. Some unusual spots may be biopsied in order to confirm that anything that appears out of the ordinary or suspicious, is accounted for.  It provides a baseline for monitoring changes in the future.

Your first visit to the dermatologist can be a little daunting. A little knowledge goes a long way.

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