Seeing a dermatologist

Seeing a dermatologist

The role of the dermatologist

Dermatologists commonly treat the more severe forms of psoriasis, and GPs the milder forms. A GP may opt to refer a patient to a dermatologist to confirm the diagnosis or when worsening of symptoms occur. There are some treatments that can only be prescribed by a dermatologist with experience treating severe psoriasis.


When to see a dermatologist

Many GPs effectively manage psoriasis, but there are occasions when referral to a dermatologist may be necessary. As a general rule, the more severe your psoriasis, the more likely you are to see a dermatologist, either regularly or to manage specific issues. Some treatments can only be prescribed by a dermatologist with experience in treating severe psoriasis. If you are referred to a dermatologist there are some simple preparation steps you can take to get the most from your appointment.

  • Track your symptoms

  • Set treatment goals

  • Make a list of questions

     

    Have clear goals

    Before you attend be clear about what you want from the appointment.

    • Do you have symptoms you need checked out?

    • Is your current treatment not working and do you need to explore other options?

    If you know what you want to achieve then you make the best use of both your time and and your doctor’s.

    Your dermatologist will develop some specific treatment goals for your psoriasis. These will usually relate to a specific reduction in PASI score. While symptom control will be important to you, there may be other things you wish to achieve.

    • A change in the number or intensity of plaques.

    • To wear a certain type of clothing.

    • Having a treatment regimen that fits your lifestyle.

    • To be more comfortable with the fact that you have a chronic condition that some people may notice may be key.

    Whatever your treatment goals are, be sure to share them with your dermatologist so that together you can work towards the most meaningful outcomes for you.

     

    Questions to ask your dermatologist about your psoriasis treatment

    • Why are you recommending this particular treatment?

    • What sort of response might I expect?

    • What sort of side effects might occur?

    • What are my options if this treatment doesn’t work?

    • What are the costs associated with this treatment?

    • How much time will this treatment take out of my day?

    If your dermatologist is recommending a biologic therapy also ask:

    • What benefits does biologic treatment offer me over others?

    • How often will I have to be treated?

    • How long does the treatment process take?

    • What are my responsibilities if I take this treatment?

    Questions to ask yourself

    You should regularly do your own assessment of your psoriasis treatment regimen.

    Ask:

    • Is my current treatment helping my symptoms enough?

    • Have I thoroughly discussed my symptoms and response to treatment with my doctor?

    • Have I explored all treatment options with my doctor recently?

    Matching treatment with your needs

    As there are a number of treatment options for psoriasis – all with benefits and side effects – it might be helpful to write down the most important factors you want from your treatment. Your dermatologist can then help match the most suitable treatment to your needs.

    Make a list

    It’s easy to get distracted during an appointment and forget to ask something important. If you have a list you can tick each thing off as it’s discussed. You might want to discuss:

    • Symptoms

    • Your medications

    • General health issues related to psoriasis

    • Alternative treatment options.

    Preparing for your appointment

    There are some steps you can take to ensure you get the best out of each appointment with your dermatologist.

    • Keep a weekly or monthly record of your symptoms.

    • Think about what has worked well since your last appointment, and what could be improved.

    • Discuss any triggers that have been active, or that you have learned about, since your last appointment.

    • If you have questions about your psoriasis or its treatment, write them down so you don’t forget anything.

    Record how your plaques have changed between appointments

    Before each appointment:

    • Download the image below and circle or colour in all the areas of your body affected by skin symptoms since your last visit.

    • Include any flare-ups that you have had in between visits.

    • Think about all your symptoms, including plaque thickness, scaling, and redness.

    Assess effectiveness of and satisfaction with treatment

    Keep a diary or use this guide to help you track how your psoriasis treatment is going.

    Keep track of your mood

    The effect of psoriasis can be far more than skin deep, potentially affecting your self-esteem and causing anxiety. Keeping a record of how you feel between appointments can be helpful.

    This educational resource is not intended to replace discussions with your healthcare team. If you have any questions about your condition or treatment, please contact your doctor.