This content reflects the views of the individual blogger and is not intended to advise you about your health. Always seek advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare professionals.
“I’m sure it’s nothing, it’ll just go away” is what I would say at first when people asked if I was going to the doctors to see someone about my skin. Looking back, I now wish I hadn’t put the appointments off and that I had gone to see someone sooner.
When I eventually went to the doctor and found out I had psoriasis, I had no idea initially what the condition was or what treatments were involved. Over the past five years I have visited a doctor or dermatologist nearly every three months about my psoriasis and about how it affects my skin as well as other parts of my body. Over the years I have learnt a few handy tips for preparing for your doctor’s appointment to ensure you get the most out of the time you have.
Unfortunately, you cannot always ensure that you will see the same medical professional. Seven to ten minutes is not a lot of time to explain to your doctor or dermatologist about your medical history and how your psoriasis is, so preparing is key to ensure that you don’t feel frustrated or helpless when you leave.
Below I have outlined some of my top tips which I have found really helpful on my psoriasis journey.
Tip 1 – Make sure you are seeing the right person
When booking an appointment with your doctor it doesn’t hurt to check if the doctor’s surgery has a doctor who has a special interest in dermatology knowledge. This may mean you have to wait a little longer for an appointment but it might allow you to get the right treatment faster or it may mean that you can be referred to a dermatologist quicker if you need that.
Also, if you have a preference for seeing either a male or female doctor then don't be afraid to ask! Make sure you are seen by someone you will comfortable showing your psoriasis too.
Tip 2 – Monitor your skin between appointments
There is nothing worse than having a flare up and booking a doctor’s appointment only for your flare to fade by the time the appointment arrives. By monitoring your psoriasis this gives the doctor an idea of how your psoriasis has been between appointments.
I find it helpful to take photographs and videos to demonstrate how my psoriasis has changed since my last visit and document any flares that have happened. Remember, your doctor will see lots of people in one day and might not remember exactly how your psoriasis looks from one appointment to the next. By documenting your psoriasis this is a great indication and way of showing your doctor if your psoriasis has stayed the same, grown or improved between appointments. It will also help them to see how different treatments have helped or worsened the skin.
Writing down how you feel about your skin can also help. Has there been days when your skin has been especially itchy? Any other side effects worth noting? What about those questions you think ‘oh, I should ask the doctor that’ then forget the second you are in the room? Have a psoriasis notebook handy to jot down your thoughts and any patterns that you notice.
Remember, psoriasis affects everyone in different ways. So, by doing this you are helping not only yourself get answers but also allowing your doctor to see how psoriasis affects you.
Tip 3 - Dress Appropriately
It is important to ensure that you are dressed appropriately in order to prepare for your appointment. If your psoriasis is not clearly visible then it is best to wear clothing that can be easily lifted or removed to show the areas of skin quickly. Loose clothing means that you will not have to fully undress if that makes you feel uncomfortable.
The less time spent removing clothing means more time discussing symptoms and other topics around your psoriasis with your doctor.
Tip 4 - It’s not just skin
Psoriasis is more than just a skin condition. You may have other disorders, also known as comorbidities, that are related to your psoriasis.
Mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety are two of the most common comorbidities associated with psoriasis. It is very important then when you talk about your psoriasis you discuss how your psoriasis makes you feel, the affects it has on how you feel daily and your overall quality of life.
Being open with your doctor will allow you to get the treatment you need for all aspects of your psoriasis not just the skin related ones.
Hopefully by following these tips you will feel more prepared for your appointments and allow you to make the most out of the short time you have with your doctor.
UK/IE MAT-17310 Date of Preparation: May 2018
Blog post developed in partnership with LEO Pharma