Assembling Your Best Healthcare Team
One of the first steps in managing your plaque psoriasis is assembling the best healthcare team for you. Having the support of friends, family, and significant others can be beneficial in your journey, however, having a professional team of caretakers that understands and listens to you can make a world of difference as you approach treatment options.
Here are some examples of professionals to seek out for your healthcare team.
Primary Care Physician (PCP)
Your primary care physician is often the first stop in the process for someone who thinks they may have plaque psoriasis. Having a knowledgeable primary care physician who knows you well can make all the difference. For mild cases of plaque psoriasis, your PCP can prescribe topical ointments or basic treatments. For more moderate to severe cases (or even in mild cases as well), your PCP can point you in the direction of a dermatologist who would have plenty of experience with plaque psoriasis, as well as potentially be a good fit for you personally.
A dermatologist is a great practitioner to have on your team, as they are often the most knowledgeable and experienced in dealing with this condition. Finding a dermatologist who you feel comfortable with personally, and who understands your lifestyle, is the most beneficial. Plaque psoriasis can be difficult to treat, and oftentimes, certain treatment plans are not conducive to your lifestyle, such as applying ointment multiple times a day for those with a busy, non-stop schedule. Having a dermatologist who empathizes with you, and understands the basics of your daily life and routine can help you find treatment options that work best for you, and help you create a long-term plan. It may also be important to find a dermatologist that specializes in what you need. For example, a pediatric dermatologist may be necessary for younger patients, or you may find out that a specific practitioner in your area specializes in plaque psoriasis only.
Psychiatrist or Therapist
It may seem odd to include these kinds of specialists on your healthcare team, however, they may be necessary at times to help you remain at your mental best. Plaque psoriasis can take a toll on your self-confidence, or can lead to increased social anxieties. Many of these feelings can lead to mental health conditions, such as depression. Being able to talk to a mental health expert about your concerns, frustrations, and worries can make a difference in keeping you strong.
Rheumatologists can treat a variety of different things, especially autoimmune conditions. Plaque psoriasis is considered an autoimmune condition, and while most treatments can be prescribed by your dermatologist or PCP, consulting a rheumatologist, or just checking in regularly could only help in your journey.
While not everyone with plaque psoriasis experiences a connection with their symptoms and their diet, some do report relief from symptoms or an increase in overall health while eating right and getting proper nutrition. A nutritionist may be able to help you discover what foods can keep you healthy, or potentially reduce plaque psoriasis symptoms if they are connected to your diet.
Make sure your team works for you!
When you are putting together your healthcare team, remember that your doctor works for you! It is important to find someone you feel comfortable with and that listens to your questions and concerns and treats you with respect. You can fire your doctor by finding another one!
Find out up front if they have appointment times that work for your schedule. Ask their front desk staff about how long it usually takes to get an appointment and what are their policies around rescheduling. If you had an emergent situation, how soon could they see you? Do they ever have walk-in hours? Will they call in prescription refills for you or do they use an electronic prescription service? Ask how they coordinate your care with other doctors you may be seeing. There may be other questions that are important to you, write them down so you have them for your first visit.
Let us know who is on your healthcare team and how they impact your treatment options and overall experience with plaque psoriasis.