Community Views: The First Dermatologist Appointment
Last updated: March 2023
Psoriasis affects about 7.5 million people in the United States. The condition causes red, scaly rashes on the skin that can be painful. For this reason, health experts advise people to visit a skin doctor (dermatologist) to get a clear diagnosis and find the best treatment option.1,2
What was your first dermatologist appointment like? Let's share.
Some people living with psoriasis develop a trusting and successful relationship with a dermatologist. But others feel dismissed and frustrated by their experiences with these specialists. To better understand the psoriasis dermatologist relationship, we turned to our Facebook community.
We asked, “What do you remember from your first dermatologist appointment? How did you feel?” More than 50 people shared their experiences.
Many people felt rushed and ignored
In a perfect world, your doctor would take the time to learn your full medical history and hear about all your symptoms, concerns, and worries. Then, they would try to find the unique treatment option(s) that works best for you. Unfortunately, not all doctors do this.
- “He wasn't really interested. It was like I was wasting his time.”
- “Shuffled out too quickly.”
- “Felt like they didn’t care about my emotional or physical pain. Was rushed through the visit.”
- “My first dermatologist was an older doctor. He didn’t even come into the room except to say, ‘It’s not curable but it is controllable.’ Then he gave me creams and left. Didn’t look at me really or explain anything.”
For some, it was a traumatic experience
Dismissive doctors are simply an annoyance for some people. But for some, especially young people, those experiences may be damaging for years to come.
- “It was so traumatizing. I was 9 and it was 1982. These guys were such quacks. They gave my mom all these creams and shampoos that burned the heck out of my skin and scalp. After a few visits, I refused to go anymore. I didn't go back to a dermatologist until I was in my early 30s.”
- “During my first dermatologist experience, he walked in, sized me up and down, said I had psoriasis and there was no cure, and literally walked out. It was very surprising and left me feeling very sad. At the time I was only 17 and would have loved a little more care.”
Misdiagnoses are common
Psoriasis is often mistaken for another condition, like lupus, eczema, or dermatitis. This can lead to confusion and delayed diagnosis.2
- “She misdiagnosed me as having lupus and sent me to a rheumatologist who treated me with malaria drugs for 2 years. I eventually saw a different dermatologist who took 2 biopsies in the same area, and both came back as just psoriasis.”
- “After a 2 hour drive to get to this doctor, she looked at my head and said I have dandruff (which I never had).”
- “She walked in and asked if I had lupus the first time I went.”
- “I was diagnosed as an adult, and she thought it was some kind of dermatitis on my hands. I had pitting nails and the whole shebang. To make a very long story short, I diagnosed myself: palmoplantar psoriasis.”
- “She would not listen and kept insisting it was contact dermatitis from the soaps I used.”
Finding the right medicine takes trial and error
Finding the right medicine that will work for your psoriasis can be a challenge. After all, symptoms can range from mild to severe and are different for everyone. Many times, finding the best treatment involves trying different drugs to see what will work best.
- “I didn't feel like he knew very much about psoriasis. The next dermatologist was more educated about how uncomfortable it made me, and he started out with creams, ointments, and shampoos. He eventually started me on Humira® which I had reactions to. Now I'm on Tremfya® and it's been awesome so far!”
- “I was 16. Now 54. Have had the same dermatologist all these years! He’s great. I wouldn’t think of going to anyone else. He started me out on shampoos, creams, and ointments. Together, we kept it under control for years. Until the last couple of years – with the stress of COVID. I had a bad flair so we both agreed it was time for something more. I’ve been on Otezla® for over 2 years now. The plaques have never truly disappeared, but I’ve been able to live an active life.”
Online support groups are a game-changer
For people living with a chronic condition like psoriasis, knowing they are not alone can make symptoms and daily life a little bit easier. Connections – even virtual ones – can be hugely helpful.
- “When I was first diagnosed, I felt alone, like I was the only one in the world who had psoriasis. When I was diagnosed, no one told me about online support groups. When I realized I wasn’t alone, it really made a difference in my life.”
- “Online support groups are the best kept secret. I got diagnosed with psoriasis in 1963. As I got older, I realized I wasn't the only person in the world with this disease. I remember the day that I found my voice. It was 40 years later, but it made a difference.”
Thank you for sharing your psoriasis story
Thank you to everyone who shared their dermatologist visit experiences. Psoriasis can be a maddening condition. But you are not alone. With a dermatologist who is compassionate, patient, and willing to find the best treatment option, you can manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
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