Getting a diagnosis for your skin condition

Skin conditions can be tricky to diagnose, there are over a thousand types of skin disease, many of which share similar characteristics. These skin conditions sometimes occur on their own or as a side effect of another illness, or treatment. 54 per cent of the population in the UK are affected by skin disease each year, and the first point of call for most people with a skin condition is their GP.

In instances of common, non-severe skin conditions, treatment may be managed by your GP. However, in instances more severe cases, or where the GP thinks an expert’s opinion may be necessary, you can be referred to see a dermatologist. If you have private healthcare then you may be able to see a dermatologist straight-away without seeing your GP, alternatively you can pay to go private.

If you are not happy with the diagnosis or treatment provided by your GP, then you are within your rights to book a new appointment with a new GP to get a second opinion, however, it is worth remembering that not all patients can be referred to see a dermatologist due to the pressure that this would put on the NHS.

If you feel that your treatment is not working, you should speak to your doctor about this, however, be aware that your doctor may want you to stick with the treatment for a certain time period to be sure, before trying a different treatment.

If you are struggling to stick to your treatment plan you should also speak to your doctor about this.

Receiving psychological support from your doctor

If you feel that your skin condition, or your treatment, is having an impact on your mental health and emotional well-being, then you should not be afraid to discuss this with your doctor. Studies have shown that the majority of people with skin disease also suffer with the psychological impact of their disease.

Your doctor may be able to chat through your concerns, provide advice, exercises, medication, and even may be able to refer you to an expert for help with the psychological impact of your condition.

Preparing for a consultation

Whether you are going to see your local nurse, GP, dermatologist, psychologist, or psychiatrist, it is worth taking time to think about how you can get the most out of the time you have with your healthcare professional. This is particularly true for people who find that medical consultations are a source of anxiety.

It may be helpful to write down your key concerns, points, and questions ahead of your consultation, this will ensure that you are able to cover everything you wanted in the time allotted for your consultation. It may also be worthwhile bringing pen and paper to make sure that you remember the answers to your questions. If it would make you feel more comfortable someone may accompany you into the consultation. If you would like this then just alert the reception staff or nurse before the consultation, on arrival.

For tips on specific questions you might want to ask your healthcare professional please take a look at our resource on this at the bottom of this page called “How to get the most out of your consultation with a healthcare professional.

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