If nothing else, the coronavirus pandemic’s stay-at-home orders have forced many of us to reevaluate what we define as essential and nonessential services. If you were used to getting your nails done every other week or a hair appointment every other month, you’ve likely reconsidered how necessary those trips were after the last few months.
And the same thing can apply to dermatologist appointments during quarantine, as they often serve an aesthetic purpose. But dermatologists provide many more services than just Botox and fillers, and it’s important to know when you should get in touch with your derm right now — whether it be for a virtual or an in-person appointment.
When it comes to things like new freckles, dark spots, rashes or other skin reactions, it’s worth getting in touch with a trusted and board certified dermatologist. This way you can feel confident that everything is OK with your skin and treat any legitimate skin issues effectively and safely.
And remember, there are certain procedures you should always save for the professionals, whether they’re considered essential or not. If you’re not quite sure if your skin worry is worth making an appointment, we spoke to three dermatologists about the symptoms and conditions to keep an eye out for.
Make an appointment ASAP for: changing brown spots and moles, nonhealing scabs or lesions, rapidly progressing rashes, signs of infection
Most dermatologists agree that there are a few things you should call your dermatologist about ASAP. New York City dermatologist Joshua Zeicher told HuffPost that things like “changing moles, pink spots and nonhealing scabs” should be evaluated during a video appointment for initial evaluation.
“In some cases your dermatologist may be able to tell you immediately if the spot is harmless,” Zeichner said. “In other cases your dermatologist may recommend coming into the office for a biopsy to test the spot under the microscope in the lab.”
New or changing brown spots are especially important to get checked as soon as possible. “We would not want to delay diagnosis of a possible melanoma, which is a deadly form of skin cancer,” Zeichner said.
Similarly, New York dermatologist Hadley King said to pay extra attention “if a mole is changing in size, shape, color or symptoms, particularly if there is a personal or strong family history of melanoma.”
If you have an unexpected rash, King said it could require an in-person or a virtual appointment, depending on the severity.
“Many rashes can be diagnosed and treated via teledermatology, but a rash that is rapidly progressing or accompanied by other systemic symptoms may require an in-person visit,” King said.
If your skin issue doesn’t fall into any of the above categories but you’re still wondering if you should make an appointment, Debra Jaliman, a New York dermatologist and author of “Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist,″ shared a few major red flags.
“If your skin is inflamed, red and painful, and [the issue is] not going away, that should be a ‘must book’ skin issue,” Jaliman said. “Anything that seems like it’s infected is a ‘must book’ skin issue. Some signs of infection are pus, fever, red swollen skin and pain.”
Schedule a less-urgent virtual appointment for: all elective procedures, nonurgent medical dermatology and annual skin checks
All experts agree that any elective cosmetic procedures should wait until stay-at-home orders are completely lifted for the safety of all involved.
“Even if doctors’ offices are starting to open, I do not recommend putting yourself in a high-risk environment for voluntary procedures,” Zeichner said.
King also said that all elective procedures should be postponed to a later date. Such voluntary procedures include things like Botox, fillers, elective mole removals, laser treatments and noninvasive fat removal.
“Nonurgent medical dermatology conditions such as acne, rosacea, hair loss and actinic keratoses are routinely being deferred, as are chronic conditions like eczema and psoriasis. In-person evaluation of limited rashes and stable skin lesions can similarly be delayed,” King explained. “Teledermatology visits can be scheduled for these concerns. And regular skin checks for patients without a history of melanoma or other aggressive skin cancer are also being deferred.”
Do this at home in the meantime: virtual consultations, consistent skin care routine
If you do have a nonurgent skin care concern, scheduling an appointment virtually has “never been easier,” Zeichner pointed out.
“Video visits are easy to set up, covered by almost every insurance, and for the overwhelming majority of people, there is no co-pay. Plus, interstate licensing rules have been relaxed in many states, so I now can treat patients in some other states,” Zeicher said. “If you have a skin question, speak to your dermatologist who will tell you whether it can be remotely or whether you will need to come into the office when possible.”
If you’re someone who is less concerned about a specific skin care symptom but still want to keep your skin in tip-top shape as you wait for elective procedures to be a possibility again, Zeicher said a consistent and effective skin care routine is the best option.
“I usually recommend an antioxidant serum plus sunscreen in the morning with a moisturizer and retinol in the evening. I also have seen an uptick in the number of patients seeing me over a video to design a custom skin care routine for their skin needs,” Zeichner said.
Bottom line? If you’re unsure about a skin issue, call your dermatologist and be completely honest about your symptoms and the severity. Odds are, they can walk you through the next steps — whether that means an in-person visit, video consultation or both.
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