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How to Prepare for a Dermatology Appointment

Visiting a skincare specialist is more than just showing up for a consultation. Here's how to prepare for a dermatology appointment.

Whether you want your dermatologist to take a look at a strange rash, or you’re going for a routine skin check, you should know how to prepare for a dermatology appointment.

We’ve put together some guidelines to help get you started.

How To Prepare for a Dermatology Appointment

There are usually two main kinds of dermatology consultations:

  • A general consultation
  • A skin check, also called a cancer screening

Gather as Much Information as Possible

If your dermatologist consultation is to address a specific issue – like a rash or an allergic reaction – it’s essential to take stock of the issue before you see the doctor. It’s essential to give your dermatologist as much information as possible, like the duration of the problem, symptoms, any previous treatment methods and what’s worked, and what hasn’t worked to alleviate your issue.

Mention Any Tests

Maybe you were referred by your general physician to a dermatologist. In that case, make sure to bring along any results of your lab work or biopsy, so you don’t repeat any of the tests. If you are concerned about any medical bills, check with your health insurance provider to find out which tests and procedures are covered and what you are responsible for. As a rule of thumb, procedures categorized as cosmetic aren’t covered by insurance companies.

Make a List of Medications and Products

Make a list of any medication you are currently taking, including supplements. Most patients don’t consider the fact that their medication can have side effects on their skin. Anything you ingest could cause a skin reaction – even “all-natural” pills. It would also be a good idea to bring along a list of all the products you are using in your skincare routine and be ready to discuss any changes you’ve noticed – like a mole varying in appearance.

Don’t Wear Makeup If You Can Help It

If your dermatologist consultation is for facial skin issues, then your doctor will likely want to examine your face bare – that means no makeup or artificial tanner. But if you’re wearing makeup when you arrive, it’s not a big deal to remove it in the consultation office. You should also remove your nail polish ahead of time since dermatologists also like to inspect your nails as part of a skin check. Specific nail discoloration could be a sign of cancer.

Focus on the Most Important Concerns First

Be sure not to unpack all your skincare questions on your first visit – prioritize one or two concerns during your consultation. This ensures that your dermatologist has a chance to address each issue and give it the attention it deserves. If you have an extensive list of skin concerns, it would be best to schedule a follow-up appointment.

How To Prepare for A Skin Check or Cancer Screening

If your trip to the dermatologist is for a routine cancer screening or skin check, it’s advisable to first perform a self-examination at home. Inspect your skin from top to toe. Look out for any unusual spots or changes. If your appointment is happening the same day, you could even circle certain spots with a non-permanent marker. This isn’t strange; in fact, it is helpful since you could easily forget to mention something. 

If you have a family history of skin cancer, you should try to find out exactly what kind of skin cancer runs in your family, so you are armed with all that information beforehand. For instance, it changes things if it’s a history of melanoma or not – having a family history of non-melanoma skin cancers has less impact on your risk for developing skin cancer.

What a Skin Check Involves

A skin check or cancer screening is a simple, painless procedure. During a skin check, your doctor will ask you to undress down to your underwear, or you might be given a medical gown.

You will either be asked to lie down or sit on the examination bed so the doctor can begin examining your skin with a special tool that illuminates and magnifies the skin. Some spots may need more detailed inspection with a dermatoscope – a tool that allows the dermatologist to see skin spots in remarkable detail.

Any lesions or spots that seem strange will be noted, and your doctor will discuss the need for a possible biopsy (when a small part is removed and sent for pathological examination) or excision (when the lesion or spot is completely removed). 

Taking Photos for Tele-Dermatology

Let’s say you wake up with a strange new skin development, like a trail of bumps on your arm. You probably want to reach for your phone camera to snap a pic or two. This is a good idea since photos can be helpful to your dermatologist – especially for reappearing skin conditions. Take pictures from different angles and distances to give your doctor a complete picture. It may be best to share these photos with your dermatologist once you’re in your consultation.

If you want a diagnosis based on a photo, find out if your doctor offers tele-dermatology. This is basically the same as an e-visit or virtual consultation. But it’s often best to have your first appointment with a new dermatologist in person.

Tips To Improve Your Skincare Regimen

Most commercial skincare products produced by well-known brands are generally safe to use. If you have sensitive skin, it’s best to look for fragrance-free products with extra-gentle formulations. Not sure which brands are reputable? Ask your dermatologist. Be sure not to get carried away if you want to try something new – ease into it one product at a time. 

And there you have it! This is how to prepare for a dermatology appointment.

Proper skincare is essential to good health. Our skin is the largest barrier against infection that we have. So, keeping your skin healthy is paramount. If you are concerned about a skin issue or would like to chat to a doctor about your general skincare health, make an appointment from the comfort of your home through AirDoctor.


Jenny Cohen Drefler

Jenny Cohen Derfler

Air Dr CEO & Co-Founder

Jenny is the CEO and one of the Co-Founders at Air Doctor. She spent more than 20 years at Intel, most recently as general manager of its manufacturing facility in Israel and before that in various engineering and manufacturing roles in Silicon Valley. Air Doctor is her second startup having previously founded electric vehicle company ElectRoad.