For those who think that they may be suffering from a skin condition such as psoriasis or eczema, that first visit to a dermatologist’s office can be a daunting proposition. And if your skin irritation just happens to be stress related — then Boom! — you’ve just added to that stress level.
But everything’s going to be okay if you remember the two words every Boy Scout learns at his first campfire: Be Prepared.
First off, if you’re shopping around for a specialist, the American Academy of Dermatology has a great Find a Dermatologist tool on its website.
Once you’ve found a qualified medical professional and set up an appointment, here are some suggestions for first-time visitors:
Bring what you need: The most important item you’ll want to bring with you to your first appointment is your insurance cards. Also bring along cash or a credit card to cover your medical co-pay if required. If you’ve been keeping a food journal, bring that also. You could also provide information on what makes your skin condition better and what makes it worse. List dietary habits, stress issues, suspected allergies to laundry soaps, shampoos and cosmetics. Also, list members of your immediate family who suffer skin maladies because many of these conditions are hereditary. Finally, be sure to jot down and bring with you a list of medication currently prescribed to you. Don’t forget to list over-the-counter medicines, ointments, vitamins and supplements you frequently purchase.
Download and complete forms ahead of time: Want to avoid scrunching up in a waiting room chair with a clipboard on your lap, laboriously filling out a pile of medical forms? Today, most dermatologists’ offices offer patient registration forms, medical questionnaires and consent to treat minors on their websites for your convenience. Check your dermatologist’s website to see which forms are available for you to download and complete for your initial visit.
It’s a lot easier to fill those forms out online and in the comfort of your own home where, by the way, you have ready access to your personal files and medications. This is information that won’t be available to you in a crowded medical office with music in the background and children scurrying around.
Help secure referring doctor’s files: Your dermatologist’s office might also require records from a referring doctor that reference your skin condition. When you make your appointment, it might be a good idea to ask the dermatologist’s office to make a formal request for your patient files. Medical offices tend to respond more quickly to requests from another medical office than they do to requests by you, the patient.
Know where you’re going ahead of time: This one may seem pretty basic but to avoid potential frustration, take time before the day of your appointment to MapQuest or Google directions to the dermatologist’s offices. Programming your GPS or smartphone, or having a map in hand takes some of the stress out of the outing. However you get there, be sure toarrive at least 15 minutes ahead of the scheduled appointment time. And make sure you leave yourself plenty of time for a complete examination and an explanation of any treatments. Don’t schedule any other appointments for at least two hours after your arrival.
Prepare a list of questions: Finally, it doesn’t hurt at all to bring along a notebook with questions you have for the dermatologist. That notebook can also prove helpful for you to jot down information the doctor gives to you!
How did you prepare for your first visit to the dermatologist’s office? Leave a comment and let us know.