10 Things Your Dermatologist Needs to Know

Sometimes communicating with your healthcare provider can be difficult. It may be because whatever you are talking about is embarrassing or something you don’t want to talk about with a stranger. It may be because you are fearful of what the answer to your question might be. Sometimes you are afraid of what your health care provider will think about you. For me personally, it’s difficult because sometimes I don’t know what information my doctor needs to know and what they don’t care about. So, in hopes of helping you communicate with your dermatologist better here are 10 things every patient should tell their dermatologist.

1. Family History of Skin Cancer- If one of your first degree relatives has had melanoma then you are at an increased risk of having a melanoma. Now, in regards to your health, we don’t necessarily need to know about Aunt Thelma’s third cousin that had melanoma although we are very sorry she went through that.

2. What products you currently put on your skin- Every day someone tells me something they are using that they think is “curing” or “helping” their problem but is actually making things worse, such as scrubs for acne or pink creams for poison ivy, things advertised as helpful that the derm world begs to differ.

3. Are you immunosuppressed- If your immune system is not up to par due to a disease or a medication you take, this increases your risk for skin cancer. For example, someone who has had an organ transplant. You most definitely need a licensed full body skin examaminer.

4. If you have ever had a skin cancer- Once you have had a skin cancer you are at an increased risk of having another skin cancer. A dermatologist should be your friend.

5. If you are pregnant- Pregnancy has many affects on your skin. Rashes, discolorations, breakouts and more can all be associated with pregnancy. Plus, this affects what medications we prescribe you that are safe for you and baby.

6. If you notice anything changing or growing on your skin- Most skin cancers are actually found by the patient. We have certain characteristics in moles that we look for such as size, shape and color but we also rely heavily on changing. If you noticed a mole changing or growing, that is something to bring to a dermatologist’s attention.

7. What your treatment preferences are- Do you prefer all natural products? Do you prefer a prescription or an over the counter medicine? Do you prefer the newest medicines on the market or do you prefer generic? Sometimes in dermatology we have choices to make for which more than one answer could be correct and knowing what you prefer and what you will actually use helps us choose your best option. Medicines only have a chance to work if you use them so don’t be afraid to tell us what you will or won’t use. We enjoy your input (as long as you let us override it when we deem necessary).

8. Do you smoke- Smoking doesn’t just reap havoc on your lungs. Smoking actually plays a role in premature skin aging. It also slows wound healing if you have had surgery on your skin. Let us know what we are up against….

9. Your modesty comfort level- Some people grew up in nudest colonies, others are uncomfortable even showing their navel. Your skin is the largest organ in your body and you can get skin cancer anywhere you have skin, even if it never has seen the light of day.  We want to thoroughly check your skin while protecting your privacy and keeping you comfortable.

10. Your sun protection beliefs- If you refuse to protect yourself from the sun let us know. We only scold you briefly. We use lots of medications that can make you even more sensitive to the sun. Also, increased sun exposure increases your risk for skin cancer, causes premature aging, brown spots and even some rashes. It’s information that helps us help you. If you want to be sun smart that’s simply you helping you.

I hope this helps you to communicate with me and all the providers at JD better this week. We can’t wait to see you!

Happy Spring forward, good luck getting out of bed in the morning, Nina



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