Psoriasis is a lifelong, chronic skin condition. There may be times when it doesn’t bother you and other times when it severely interferes with your daily life. If your psoriasis is mild, you might be treated by your family physician and wonder if it is time to see a dermatologist. Even if you are already under the care of a dermatologist, there may be times when you aren’t sure if your flare warrants an immediate office visit.
1. You have recently been diagnosed with psoriasis. Early treatment of psoriasis can help keep symptoms under control and may stop the condition from worsening. Since psoriasis is a chronic condition, it is a good idea to see a dermatologist as soon as you are diagnosed, especially if you have moderate or severe psoriasis.
2. You are having a psoriasis flare and normal treatment doesn’t seem to be working. If you have previously seen your dermatologist and are following the treatment plan but still experiencing flare-ups, it is time to make a follow-up appointment to see your dermatologist.
3. You have questions about treatment. Dermatologists specialize in skin conditions. They have knowledge about the different treatment options, such as topical medications, systemic treatments and photolight therapy. If you aren’t sure what treatment would be best for your situation, a dermatologist can provide answers.
4. You’re not satisfied with your current treatment. If you aren’t happy with how your treatment is working, contact your doctor and ask about other options. You might feel your current doctor doesn’t provide adequate care, listen to your concerns or is not properly treating your symptoms. If this is the case, you have every right to seek out a second opinion.
5. Your psoriasis is negatively impacting your quality of life. If you feel you are missing out on or not participating fully in life because of your psoriasis, it is time to see a specialist who can work with you and help decide a better course of treatment.
6. You are experiencing negative side effects from treatment. Some treatments can cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or fever. If you have severe side effects or your side effects don’t diminish, talk to your dermatologist about other treatment options.
7. You have developed signs of an infection. You might notice swelling, redness or tenderness at sites with psoriasis. You might notice a discharge or red lines that streak out from the psoriasis area. You might run a fever (without any other apparent cause.) Signs of infection should be seen by a dermatologist.
8. You skin is more irritated or inflamed than normal. Living with psoriasis, you know what a normal psoriasis flare is for you. If your flares are more severe than previously, contact your dermatologist.
9. You develop joint pain or stiffness. Some people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis which might require a systemic treatment approach. This can cause permanent deformity if left untreated.
10. You are uncomfortable or embarrassed about how your psoriasis looks. For some, psoriasis is an inconvenience, for others it is painful, uncomfortable and embarrassing. There are treatments that can help you get symptoms under control and help you enjoy your life.
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Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.