How to prepare for your trip to the dermatologist
POPSUGAR: When should someone set up their first dermatologist appointment?
Dr. David Bank: It is never too early to see a dermatologist. Dermatologists see infants, children, teens, and adults. There are several reasons to schedule your first appointment. You should unquestionably see a dermatologist if you have a problem with your skin, but you may also want to schedule an appointment to get a skin cancer exam and to ask questions about normal skin care, or even cosmetic treatments. A visual, whole-body examination should be performed once a year.
PS: What are the best resources for doing research to find a derm?
DB: Make sure your doctor has credentials and is board certified. To find a board-certified dermatologist, you can search on www.abderm.org. It's important to know that your doctor is certified in a relevant area of expertise. Ask your friends, colleagues, and neighbors for any tips and insight on doctors in the area.
PS: What types of expectations should patients have going in?
DB: When you see a dermatologist for the first time, he or she will most likely check for skin cancer as well as examine your skin to see if there are any other problems. The dermatologist also may touch or palpate the skin and view it using a special light, or perform other diagnostic tests.
PS: What should first-time patients be prepared to discuss with their doctor?
DB: It helps to be prepared for your appointment. Make sure you check with your health insurance plan to find out what services are covered and whether you need a referral from your primary-care provider before making the appointment. Take all the necessary identification and medication cards with you and bring a list of all the medications and supplements you are taking. You may also want to bring a list of questions and a pen and paper if you have a concern to discuss or want to jot down directions or tips from the doctor.
PS: Anything else patients should know to make their visit a better one?
DB: Before the exam, remove all nail polish from your fingernails and toenails. Dermatologists need to look at your nails and nail beds, since skin cancers can form there, too.
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