Dermatologist Q&A: Get the Most Out of Your Appointment
It's difficult enough to get an appointment with your skincare doctor, the dermatologist. It's one of those underserved specialties that make it tough to get scheduled. So why not make your yearly appointment while you're there, if they schedule that far in advance? That way, you know you'll get to see the doctor at least once a year. Many people tend to wait until something's wrong to see the dermatologist, but with wait times that average more than a month, it's better to be safe and have that standing appointment, especially if you're at a high risk for skin cancer. If you've never been to the dermatologist, then a well visit is probably in order. Because appointments are so hard to come by, it's best to be prepared and walk in armed with all your questions. Here's a good place to start. Risk factors for skin cancer include a family history, frequent sunburns either currently or during your childhood, and having fair skin. Before you go have those moles or spots checked, it's a good idea to mark with a red or purple pen those spots that concern you most - that way, they're easier for the dermatologist to spot, and you won't forget about those areas that are out of your line of sight, like those on your back. Your dermatologist may biopsy - meaning cut out - suspicious-looking moles - or he may ask you to come in for a follow-up. Ask what kind of sunscreen you should be using, regardless of your moles. Your dermatologist can recommend brands that work with your particular skin type. If you have a treatment while you're in his office, such as microdermabrasion or are given prescription medication, ask how sun exposure might affect your skin. If you find your skin is going overtime with oil and causing breakouts, then ask the doctor about it. Again, he may prescribe something to help the condition, or recommend prescription, dietary or stress modifications if your acne is caused by any of those factors. And for those of us of a certain age, we may want to ask the dermatologist about slowing the aging process, either with topical treatments, facials or even more radical treatments such as Botox. It's your appointment, so be sure to cover all of your skincare bases when you make your visit.