Working with your Doctor
Finding a doctor that you can work collaboratively with on your psoriasis treatment plan can be one of the most essential keys to your success. The initial diagnosis of psoriasis can be an incredibly challenging time, both physically and emotionally, that also comes with a great level of stress and confusion.
Where to start
Your insurance website can be one of the best resources when starting to search for a doctor because they will provide you with a list of doctors that fit within your plan or who will fit within your budget. Unfortunately, some psoriasis treatments can be costly, so ensuring that you won’t be charged for out-of-network services can give you peace of mind. From there, cross reference some of the doctors on your list with a website that reviews doctors. Another option is to join some online psoriasis support groups that have members in your area and ask for recommendations from people who are also patients.
Once you’ve found a doctor, get yourself prepared for the appointment to ensure you have a productive conversation and appointment. Spend a few weeks tracking your psoriasis in a notebook or notes app so you can talk to the doctor about foods and/or experiences that make your skin flare or feel worse. Some of those experiences can include stressful situations, exercise or even shower water temperatures. Understanding your own psoriasis will be important when guiding the conversation with your doctor.
Choosing treatment options
There are also an overwhelming amount of options available for treating psoriasis, including topicals (that can be creams, gels, foams or sprays), light therapy, biologics, homeopathic, systemics, oral and possibly even [drugs that are used as] chemotherapy for very aggressive cases. Then, each one of those categories includes multiples brands which have various differences in ingredients and how and where it can be administered. Then, there’s understanding any costs involved and if a preferred treatment or brand is covered under your insurance plan. You don’t have to walk in to the appointment knowing everything about each one, but a little bit of research can help you determine the kind of treatment that you may not be willing to try or if it will fit within your budget. There’s a lot of information, so having a general sense of what is available will make you feel more in control.
At your appointment when discussing your treatment plan, talk to your doctor about establishing your criteria for success, which includes the length of time that you’ll try each treatment. Unfortunately, the first treatment that you try may not work for you and you should plan to create a Plan B, C, D, etc. It will still be frustrating when something doesn’t work, but hopefully having a plan of attack will help you feel better about it.
Making a plan
Bring a list of questions and anything else you want to talk about. To ensure you don’t forget anything discussed, write down the answers and any agreements about treatment or any complimentary courses of action to take – such as a nutrition or exercise plan. Be sure to ask about any possible side effects of whatever course of action you have chosen to take. Lastly, before finalizing a treatment plan, double-check with your doctor’s office and insurance company to ensure that any medications prescribed are covered by your plan or to understand what costs will be your responsibility.
Establishing a psoriasis treatment can be incredibly stressful and confusing, but having a strategy, a lot of patience and a trusted resource can help you feel positive about your chosen course.