Talking about treatment options with your healthcare provider is an important part of managing your psoriasis. Talking openly with your doctor may not be easy – particularly if you feel like she isn’t receptive or if she is pressed for time. Here are three tips to help you talk more effectively with your doctor about treatment options at your next visit.
Track your symptoms
When you’re on the spot in your doctor’s office, it can be hard to remember or describe how your symptoms have changed. Prior to your next appointment, become prepared. Begin tracking your symptoms in a diary or calendar. Each day, note the current condition and appearance of your skin. Is it red, cracked, burning, and/or painful? Where on your body is it the worst? If your hands and feet are affected differently than your scalp, make sure to write that down. Many psoriasis sufferers find it helpful to take a daily photo their skin. Having photographic “evidence” of your symptoms may help you better express your symptoms to your doctor.
Once you begin tracking your symptoms, you may see a pattern emerging. Consider other lifestyle factors that may be impacting your skin and contributing to flares. For example, changes in diet, stress levels, weather, etc. Can you determine whether any of these factors are influencing your flare cycles? Or, are any of these factors causing your psoriasis to become more severe when you’re already in a flare? Try to be open-minded and look at aspects you may not have previously considered.
At your next appointment, share your findings with your doctor. Discuss any changes since your last visit and share what has (or hasn’t) been working.
Do your own research
Without a doubt, the internet is full of information and valuable resources on psoriasis. It can also be an amazing place to connect with others and get much needed support. For those who have had bad experiences with healthcare providers, the internet can help serve as a source of validation and even lead to a correct diagnosis.
Use your research knowledge to help steer the conversation in a productive way. Coming to your appointment prepared with knowledge about treatment options can help focus the discussion when you have limited time for an appointment. Once your doctor has prescripted a treatment option, find out how soon you can (or should) expect to see results. If you don’t see results, how long will you have to wait until your doctor will prescribe a new treatment?
Bring a list of questions
We all know that doctors are pressed for time during visits especially when they get behind on schedule. So, don’t wait to ask your most important question until the moment your doctor has her hand on the doorknob. Come prepared with a list of your questions to help you remain focused if you’re feeling rushed.
Your list might include asking about prescriptive and OTC treatment options, potential side effects, or how long it can take for treatment to begin working. If you’re newly diagnosed, check out our list of questions to ask at your next appointment.
Talking about your treatment options with your doctor should be a positive and inclusive experience. Coming prepared to appointments can help you advocate for yourself and better participate in making decisions. Tell us: How do you discuss treatment options with your provider?