Dermatology Appointments: Know Before You Go

Published: 17th August 2009
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Dermatology is a medical specialty that covers a wide array of skin conditions. From breakouts to mole removal, your dermatologist is well-equipped to address any and all of your skin-related needs.

When you call to make an appointment with a dermatologist, you will be asked to state the purpose of your visit. Rest assured that you do not have to limit this to one single item.

Most health insurance companies cover the cost of dermatology appointments. However, many companies require that you obtain a referral from your primary care physician prior to your appointment in order for it to be covered. Be sure to check with your insurance company about its policy and obtain the necessary paperwork prior to your visit; otherwise, a negligible copayment could turn into quite the hefty sum if you are forced to boot the entire dermatology bill on your own.

For your visit, be prepared to go over your medical and family history with your dermatologist. You'll want to make sure to advise your dermatologist of any medications you are taking, as well as any allergies or intolerances.

The following are some of the most commonly-offered services provided by dermatologists:

Acne treatment

Acne treatment is quite possibly the most popular reason for a dermatology appointment. Once you've scheduled an appointment, try to keep a "skin log" for as many weeks as possible prior to your visit. You should record the types of foods you are eating and the specific skincare products you are using. You should also try to note when your most significant acne flair-ups occurr so that the dermatologist can study the data and detect any patterns.

On the day of your dermatology appointment, you can feel free to cleanse and wash your face before you leave the house, but be sure not to wear any makeup. This will only make it more difficult for the dermatologist to examine your skin and determine the best course of treatment.

Your dermatologist will evaluate your skin and attempt to recognize any patterns for your acne flare-ups before coming up with a treatment plan. As is the case with any sort of medical evaluation, do not shy away from asking your dermatologist questions about your exam or his treatment plan. Also, let your dermatologist know if you do not have medical insurance or prescription coverage so that he can be mindful of the cost involved in your treatment. Some dermatologists even have product samples on hand and are happy to help those patients with limited financial resources.

Skin cancer checks and mole removal

You should make a yearly appointment for a dermatologist to inspect and evaluate your skin for signs of skin cancer or suspicious-looking moles. While it is your dermatologist's job to scan your body thoroughly for moles, spots, and changes, you can help him out by coming prepared. Since you know your body better than anyone else, it's a good idea to do your own self-check prior to your dermatologist appointment. Your dermatologist will probably ask if you have noticed any new or changing marks on your skin, so a self-check a day or so before the appointment will help you answer this important question.

If your dermatologist does notice a suspicious-looking mole, then he might choose to remove it on the spot. Mole removal is a quick, painless procedure. The dermatologist uses a numbing agent to anesthetize the affected area of skin so that the most a patient should feel is a quick pinch. The mole is then removed and sent for evaluation at a lab. Your dermatologist will call to notify you of the results only if they are problematic. Otherwise, no news is good news.

Keep in mind that dermatologists often take a "better safe than sorry" approach by removing a mole before it becomes problematic. Don't get swept away by panic the second you hear the words "mole removal." Some moles are simply hereditary, and there's nothing you can do to prevent them. What you can do is schedule regular yearly appointments with your dermatologist to avoid problems down the road.

Treatment of skin rashes

Most people suffer from some type of skin rash at one point or another in life. You can get a rash as the result of an allergic reaction, or by coming into contact with something that causes a rash. Other rashes or rash-like symptoms are caused by underlying medical conditions such as eczema, rosacea, or psoriasis, all of which can be triggered by uncontrollable factors such as change in climate and stress. While your initial inclination might be to self-diagnose, this is not a good idea. A dermatologist, on the other hand, is trained to properly identify the cause of your rash and treat it so that you feel better as quickly as possible.

When you call to make an appointment to have your rash evaluated, be sure to advise the office staff of any significant discomfort you might be experiencing. The staff will usually do its best to accommodate you by squeezing you into the doctor's schedule, even if he is technically already booked.

Your dermatologist will probably want to know when you first noticed the rash and on what area of the body it first appeared. He is also likely to ask if you ate or touched anything unusual the day the rash popped up. In order to help your dermatologist make a proper diagnosis, please be prepared to answer these questions as accurately as possible.

Your dermatologist will come up with a treatment plan based on the cause of the rash. The solution to your itching problem might be a simple pill or cream application. In the case of a pre-existing condition such as eczema, a more involved treatment plan might be in order. Either way, be prepared to schedule a follow-up visit so that your dermatologist can monitor the success of his treatment plan.

Wart removal

It's true that the word "wart" does come with its share of stigma, but that's no reason to avoid treating one that happens to pop up. Your dermatologist is well-seasoned when it comes to wart removal and will be much more effective than a home-treatment kit.

Most dermatologists use either a freezing or laser technique to get rid of warts. While the removal procedure isn't pleasant, it is not nearly as terrible as it sounds. The process is quick and performed under local anesthesia in order to minimize the patient's discomfort. However, you should be aware that when it comes to wart removal, one doctor's visit is often times not enough. Most successful wart removal treatments require two or three visits, usually scheduled at two to three week intervals. Your dermatologist will obviously do his best to nip the problem in the bud in as few sessions as possible.

Did you know that your dermatologist can treat everything from post-surgical scars to tattoo removal to annoying dandruff? If you are experiencing any sort of skin-related issue, then give your dermatologist a call. You'll be amazed at the many ways a dermatologist can make you a whole lot more comfortable in your skin.

The information in the article is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care an appropriate health care provider.

Maurie Backman is a writer for Yodle, a business directory and online advertising company. Find a dermatologist or more personal care articles at Yodle Consumer Guide. Dermatology Appointments: Know Before You Go

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