TALKING TO YOUR DOCTOR
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR
The first step to overcoming all these barriers is to make a new appointment to talk to your doctor today.
If you’re not sure where your local doctor is, use the NHS GP finder (UK only).
HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR VISIT
Take the psoriasis treatments you use with you.Take all your psoriasis treatments with you when you visit your doctor, including all your prescribed medication, plus any creams or shampoos you might have bought yourself. Showing your doctor everything you’re using will help them understand what you’re doing to manage your psoriasis.
Try keeping a symptom diary detailing both skin symptoms and how you feel.It can be hard to remember things when you’re on the spot. Make notes about your psoriasis and how you feel, so you don’t forget to tell your doctor during the appointment.
Wearing clothing that will let you easily show affected areas.If you’ve only got seven minutes, the last thing you want is to spend half that time getting in and out of your clothes, rather than talking about your psoriasis! Wear something that will help you show your doctor the affected areas easily and quickly.
Tell the doctor about any psoriasis you have in non-visible areas, like ears, armpits or groin.If they can’t see your psoriasis, your doctor won’t know unless you tell them. And if you don’t tell them, they can’t fully assess your condition.
People with psoriasis can develop a type of arthritis, so tell your doctor about any joint stiffness or pain.If your doctor doesn’t know about your symptoms they can’t treat them. Pay particular attention to any stiffness or pain in your back, fingers, jaw or the bit on your chest where your collarbone meets your breastbone.
Ask your doctor for help with smoking or weight issues, as they can make your psoriasis worse.Speak to your doctor if you would like help to quit smoking or advice on healthy eating and exercise.
Make sure you arrange a follow-up appointment.The end of your appointment is a great opportunity to agree a date for a follow-up with your doctor, so try to book with the receptionist before you leave. Even if you feel you’re managing well and your psoriasis isn’t getting worse, you should still aim to see your doctor at least once a year.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I VISIT MY DOCTOR ABOUT MY PSORIASIS?
Once you’re happy with your treatment, visiting your doctor at least once a year can help you work together to develop the right long-term management plan for your psoriasis. It gives your doctor the opportunity to discuss your progress, see how your treatments are working for you, and look for signs of psoriasis-related arthritis.
COMMON DOCTOR CONCERNS AND WORRIES
You’re not alone in having concerns about visiting your doctor, here are some answers to some of the common questions and worries that people with psoriasis have about their doctor's visit.
Your doctor may not realise how much of an impact your condition is having on your life. They may not even realise your treatment isn’t controlling your symptoms unless you tell them.
Try writing down your concerns with some examples of what it’s like to live with your treatment. You may find it helpful to take a family member with you so they can give their perspective, too.
It’s great news that your psoriasis has improved, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you can stop using any or all of your treatments. It may be that it’s improved because your psoriasis is being kept under control by the treatment and it would come back if you stopped. However, psoriasis does tend to run in cycles of flare-ups with less severe phases in between.1
You should never stop any treatment that has been prescribed except on the advice of your doctor.
Psoriasis can’t be cured, but there are now more options available than there were in the past. You may find it helpful to book an appointment to speak to your doctor again.
If your doctor doesn’t have any more options for treatment that they feel confident prescribing, and your condition is not adequately controlled, they may offer to refer you to a dermatology specialist.
There are also a number of other options available. Some doctors have extra training in dermatology and can advise you in more detail, these doctors are referred to as 'doctors with a specialist interest in dermatology’. You may also be given the option to see a hospital-based dermatology specialist in the NHS or privately.
It can be difficult not to get frustrated, but it can help to prepare what you want to say in order to put your case forward calmly. Try practising what you’re going to say beforehand, or writing a list of the ways in which your psoriasis is affecting your life. That way, you’ll be able to give a full picture.
1. NHS Psoriasis – Symptoms (May 2015)
MAT-17375 V2, October 2018 http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Psoriasis/Pages/Symptoms.aspx.
Accessed October 2018.