Choosing the right health care provider

Living with a chronic illness, such as psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, makes finding a long-term health care provider one of the most important decisions you will make. Together, you are forming a partnership to help manage your health.

Your relationship with your health care provider is key to helping clear your psoriasis and manage your psoriatic arthritis to the fullest extent possible. Take the time to interview as many dermatologists as necessary to find one who will work well with you, your family and your lifestyle.

When seeking out a dermatologist, it is important to ask:

How many other psoriasis patients do you treat per month? Not all dermatologists are familiar with psoriatic diseases. It's important to be treated by someone who understands psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. The National Psoriasis Foundation Health Care Provider Directory can help you find a dermatologist or rheumatologist near you.

What are the latest treatment options? Your dermatologist should be familiar with the commonly accepted treatment modalities and keep you informed. It's also important that you familiarize yourself with available treatment options. If you have psoriatic arthritis, be sure to learn about nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).

How is psoriasis impacting my life? In addition to measuring the coverage on your body's surface area, your dermatologist should also ask about the impact psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis has on your life as a whole such as if the disease is affecting you emotionally, if you are feeling isolated, or if you are experiencing other diseases related to psoriasis, like diabetes or heart disease.

Know your rights as a patient. You should not settle on a dermatologist or rheumatologist just because of reputation. You know your needs better than anyone—make sure your needs will be met by the health care provider you choose.