Many people with psoriasis value appointments with their dermatologist. These specialists can confirm a diagnosis of psoriasis, provide information on new medications, and develop a treatment plan for related conditions like psoriatic arthritis.
However, sometimes in-person care just isn’t an option. Virtual appointments can have all the same benefits of face-to-face visits — but in the comfort of your own home.
Maximize the success of your virtual dermatology appointments for psoriasis by following these tips.
Photos give your dermatologist a close-up look at your skin. Good pictures are especially important for a teledermatology appointment, where your doctor can’t examine your skin in person.
The American Academy of Dermatology provides several tips for photos that lead to a successful teledermatology visit, including:
- Take multiple pictures from multiple angles. Try to get the entire area of affected skin in the photo. Show areas like your elbows from both sides and underneath. Include a distance and close-up shot.
- Provide comparative photos. The doctor may want to see a clear area of skin to compare it to the area with psoriatic patches. If there’s pitting in one fingernail but another is clear, try to have a picture of both nails so the doctor can make a thorough evaluation.
- Aim for optimal sharpness and clarity. Often, psoriasis appears similar to other skin conditions, such as eczema, in children and adults. Clear pictures can help your care provider make an accurate evaluation. If the photo appears blurry, try to take it again.
- Snap the photos in natural light. Use a desk lamp if there’s no natural light so the image is as clear as possible.
- Ask a housemate to photograph hard-to-reach areas. Someone in your household can take pictures of psoriasis on your back or other places you can’t photograph on your own.
The doctor’s office may give you the opportunity to upload or email photos before your appointment. Give yourself time to take and send the photos in advance of your teledermatology visit.
Your doctor may ask to see areas of skin during your teledermatology appointment. To give them the best possible view, try to place your laptop or tablet in a space with good light.
Experiment with this before the appointment, so you can change your setup to avoid shadows and glare. A mock appointment with a friend can help you to know how to best shift your light source or move furniture.
Many people with psoriasis use makeup, but your doctor will want to examine your skin in its natural state. This lets them evaluate the condition and make appropriate recommendations.
If you typically use makeup to manage the appearance of your psoriasis, you may want to allow extra time before your appointment to wash it off and give your skin time to rest before you appear on camera.
Skin irritation can affect how your skin looks and feels. Before the appointment, do your best not to rub or scratch your skin.
Don’t apply skin care products and don’t take a hot shower immediately before you log on to talk with your doctor.
Privacy and the freedom to speak freely are important during any doctor’s visit, as is the ability to focus on your health.
Choose a spot in your home where you don’t expect interruptions from family members, pets, or knocks at the door. This way, you can make the most of the time you have with the specialist.
Test out your camera and microphone before the appointment. Confirm you have a strong internet connection that allows for the best video and sound quality.
It’s also important to double-check that you have all of the information you need from your dermatologist’s office, like a meeting link and password. Download any special software ahead of time so you don’t waste any time once your consultation starts.
Confirm that your insurance company covers the cost of a virtual appointment.
Gather any information that your doctor’s office may need, including the name of your carrier and policy number. Ask if the office requires that you produce any personal identification prior to or during your online dermatology visit.
In the rush to set up a virtual appointment, it’s easy to lose sight of the reason for your visit. Jot down questions you have for your dermatologist.
Anyone with psoriasis should feel comfortable scheduling a consult. However, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation, these visits are particularly important in some instances:
- You have flares or worsening symptoms.
- You want information on new medications.
- You have limited success with current treatments.
With a list of questions handy, you can cover everything that’s on your mind about your health.
Prepare a rundown of any recent symptoms or changes in your overall health. Be specific about the location, duration, and intensity of symptoms.
Symptoms might include:
- dry or cracking skin
- nail changes
Stiff or swollen joints may indicate psoriatic arthritis, so these symptoms may lead your doctor to do additional screening if you don’t already have a diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis.
Even if you have a prior relationship with the dermatologist, note important events in your medical history. This way you can give the doctor the information they need to best support your health.
For example, a diagnosis of psoriasis often leads to greater risk of:
- heart disease
- type 2 diabetes
Your dermatologist is an important partner in managing psoriasis. To optimize the quality of care during a virtual appointment, test out the technology beforehand, take good pictures, and prepare your questions and concerns.
By taking these steps, you can make the most of your time with the specialist and continue to support your health.