How to Find the Right Doctor to Treat Your Psoriasis

Tips for Seeking out a Dermatologist or Rheumatologist

Dermatologist examining woman's skin
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Most primary care physicians have some experience with psoriasis and can easily manage a simple case, which requires only topical treatment of small areas. But what do you do when your whole body is covered or when you have painful psoriatic arthritis associated with your psoriasis? What type of doctor is well-versed in the use of biologic drugs, methotrexate and other strong medicines?

Finding the right doctor to treat complicated and severe cases of psoriasis can make all the difference.

That's where a good specialist comes in. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you're looking for the right doctor to treat your psoriasis.

What Is a Dermatologist?

When your psoriasis reaches a point where your primary care physician is no longer comfortable treating you, ask to be referred to a qualified dermatologist in your community. A dermatologist is a physician who has completed specialized training in skin diseases after completing medical school. For most physicians, this means three years of intensive hospital-based training. Many dermatologists treat the full spectrum of skin diseases, but there are also centers dedicated to psoriasis treatment.

What Is a Rheumatologist?

For those patients with severe psoriatic arthritis who are not responsive to their dermatologist's treatment, referral to a rheumatologist may be useful. Rheumatologists specialize in the treatment of arthritis and may have access to intravenous medications that have found to be helpful for treating psoriasis, such as Remicade, while most dermatologists do not.

Finding a Qualified Doctor

Your primary care doctor will likely be able to refer you to a dermatologist or rheumatologist in your area who has experience treating patients with psoriasis. Seeking online reviews and asking others about their experiences can also be helpful.

You can also visit the website for the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) to find a dermatologist near you.

 Fellows of the AAD have completed a dermatology residency and passed the examination of the American Board of Dermatology, and likely have extensive knowledge of psoriasis.

What to Look for in a Psoriasis Doctor

Because psoriasis is a chronic condition that you will have to manage your entire life, the doctor you choose is very important to your longterm wellbeing. Once you have found a doctor who can treat your psoriasis, how can you tell if he or she is the right doctor for you? Asking yourself the following questions can help you decide:

  • Does the doctor communicate well?
  • Do you feel like you can trust and speak honestly with the doctor?
  • If you have other conditions, is the doctor willing to work with your other doctors on creating a suitable treatment plan?

If you do not feel that your needs are being met, it is OK to seek out a new doctor. Like any relationship, it's important that the relationship you have with your psoriasis doctor is a healthy and trusting relationship.

Source:

National Psoriasis Foundation. (n.d.). Finding the right doctor. Retrieved January 29, 2016.

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