What is a dermatologist?

A dermatologist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of the skin, scalp, hair and nails.

Photo of a dermatologist inspecting a patient's skin on her arm.

When should I see a dermatologist?

NPF recommends that anyone living with psoriasis see a dermatologist. It’s especially important to find a dermatologist who has experience treating psoriasis if:

  • Your disease is flaring or your symptoms are worsening.
  • The treatment(s) recommended by your primary care provider are not working.
  • You are interested in trying treatments that your PCP is not familiar with, such as biologics, oral treatments or phototherapy.

If you have limited access to a dermatologist because of your location or insurance plan, you should see a PCP to manage your psoriasis. You can also explore telemedicine when you and your health care provider are unable to meet in person.

How do I discuss my symptoms?

Before your appointment, it is helpful to track your symptoms so you can discuss them with your dermatologist.

Here are some tips to help you communicate your symptoms.

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Observe and Record

Keep track of your symptoms leading up to your appointment.

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Clear Descriptions

Communicate your symptoms as clearly and specifically as possible.

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Be sure to explain the intensity of each symptom. Use a scale from 0 to 10, in which 10 is extreme intensity.

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Discuss where you experience each symptom.

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Explain how long each symptom has been present.

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Explain how your symptoms change over time.

How do I decide on a treatment with my dermatologist?

Your dermatologist will recommend treatments based on:

  • The severity of your disease
  • Your health history and overall health
  • Your experience with previous treatments

Your dermatologist may be guided by the psoriasis treatment targets published by the NPF Medical Board. These targets make achieving clear or almost clear skin the new standard of care for psoriasis. 

Your dermatologist may also turn to the six psoriasis treatment guidelines published by NPF and the American Academy of Dermatology in 2019-20. These guidelines give health care providers an up-to-date reference – and give you the information needed to make informed decisions about your care.

Remember, finding the right treatment may take time. Continue to work closely with your dermatologist to ensure you are meeting your treatment goals.

The NPF Patient Navigation Center can help you connect with dermatologists in your area who understand psoriasis and how to treat it.

Make the Most of Your Appointment

Be prepared with our free appointment prep kit.

Request this free kit

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