Have you ever left your dermatologists office feeling as though you wasted your time because they didn't tell you anything new about your current treatment? Many psoriasis patients have felt like this while seeing their dermatologist, I know I have.
We trust our doctors with our lives, so it only makes sense to do the right research. It's also important to find the right doctor when you're dissatisfied with your current patient-doctor relationship, especially when living with a thoroughly complicated disease such as psoriasis.
Many patients make the mistake of thinking that because their doctor is a dermatologist they are seeing the right specialized doctor. For a psoriasis patient, finding a dermatologist who specializes in psoriasis treatment is your first line of defense.
A dermatologist who specializes in psoriasis treatment truly understands the disease from the inside out. They know psoriasis does not just affect the outer surface of the skin and understands that topicals will only help for so long. They know that 35 percent of patients diagnosed with psoriasis are likely to get psoriatic arthritis. So referring you to a rheumatologist is vital in the diagnosis process.
They also know that because psoriasis affects the immune system, individuals will garner different results with the same medication. They understand the symptoms, the five different types of psoriasis, multiple triggers and the severity of this autoimmune disease.
As soon as I found my current dermatologist who specializes in psoriasis treatment, I was hooked – and in the best way possible. When have you ever felt that way while living with psoriasis or any other chronic disease? I feel connected to my dermatologist because she knows the disease. She takes the time to get to know me, what has worked for me, what hasn’t worked and what new treatments are on the horizon.
How do I know when it's time to switch?
That is as simple as three steps and some easy questions:
First, do your research? Take a few minutes to go to their website and see what they specialize in, what their medical interests are. This information is always available. The right dermatologist will be board certified by The American Academy of Dermatology.
If you can’t find information online, pick up the phone and ask, “Does Dr. John Doe specialize in psoriasis and psoriasis treatment?” If they don’t, keeping calling!
Then, come prepared with questions and do not feel badly for asking them. Once you've done your initial research, it's important to take a look at the practice itself.
Here are some more in depth questions to consider when making the switch
- What kind of treatment do they offer?
- Does the practice focus on research?
- What is the size of the practice? If it’s smaller, it could mean more one-on-one time with the doctor, but a little longer wait.
- Is the office a teaching facility versus a practice?
- What is the personality of the practice? Professional? Laid-back? Top-rated? Mom and pop? Does it fit with your personality?
- What array of treatments do they offer? Phototherapy, biologics, topical steroids?
- Are they involved in clinical trials?
- Will they be able to see you quickly if you have a flare up?
- Will you see the same doctor each time or a different one?
After finding some answering and have choosing the practice, it's important to be prepared for your visit. This includes understanding where you are at in your psoriasis treatment journey and where you want to go.
Your dermatologist should also be asking you the following questions
- How satisfied/dissatisfied are you with your current treatment plans?
- What is your quality of life? Are you happy? Depressed?
- How much stress are you under?
- Has there been any major event(s) in your life? A big move, a death in the family, a layoff at work?
- Do you have a good support system?
- What does your diet/lifestyle consist of?
If he or she doesn’t ask you these questions you should go ahead and talk about these yourself! These questions are vital in the psoriasis diagnosis and doctor/patient process. Your doctor is there to help you find the best treatment plans for you, but it's also key to remember you too should be advocating for your health.
Finding the right doctor is a vital step in not only learning to live with your disease but managing it as well.