Definition and Overview
A dermatology consultation is a service provided by a dermatologist or dermatology clinic, sometimes for free, for patients who are seeking advice regarding existing problems that affect the skin, scalp, hair, nails, lips, and mouth, many of which can be diagnosed by a simple physical examination.
A consultation with a dermatologist provides a patient a clear knowledge of their condition and available treatment options. Seeking a consultation early will help reduce the potential risks and complications that may arise due to the dermatological condition.
Who Should Undergo and Expected Results
A dermatology consultation is beneficial for any person who has symptoms of dermatology conditions affecting the skin, hair, scalp, nails, mouth, and lips, including the following:
- Skin itching
- Abnormal skin growths
- Skin lesions
The consultation is also recommended for patients who were diagnosed with dermatologic conditions such as:
- Skin infections
- Hair loss
- Nail disorders
Skin tumor or skin cancer
After the consultation, patients are expected to:
Begin treatment (usually for mild conditions)
- Know about their treatment options
- Be aware of all potential side effects of each treatment
- Know about the costs and payment options of each treatment
For more serious conditions such as skin cancer, a consultation should equip a patient to make a decision regarding treatment, such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, so that the dermatological condition can be addressed at the soonest possible time.
How Does the Procedure Work?
Some patients go straight to a dermatologist on their own, while others seek a dermatology consultation upon the referral of a general physician or family doctor. The consultation usually lasts about 20 to 30 minutes, but it may take longer depending on the extent of the patient's condition.
During the appointment, the dermatologist will review the patient’s medical history, ask about the symptoms and chief complaints, and physically examine the affected area.
In most cases, a physical examination is usually sufficient to diagnose the condition. However, in some cases, certain tests such as the following may be required.
- Blood test
- Skin swab
- Skin biopsy
Once the condition has been diagnosed, the dermatologist will provide an overview of existing treatment options, their risks, side effects, and the expected results. The patient does not have to commit to treatment during the consultation, but should have a clear knowledge of his options so that he can make an informed decision and begin treatment as soon as possible.
In cases of mild dermatological conditions, the patient may begin treatment right away. In most of these cases, treatment may involve the use of certain medications, so the dermatologist can already provide the necessary prescriptions during the said appointment. In such cases, patients will be asked to come back after 1 or 2 months for a follow-up check, during which the dermatologist will assess whether the treatment is working properly or has yielded the desired results so far. If not, the treatment plan will be adjusted accordingly.
Possible Risks and Complications
A dermatology consultation is a safe routine visit to a dermatologist for an existing or suspected dermatologic condition. In most cases, the visit only requires a physical examination and thus poses no risks and complications to the patient. In other cases, some laboratory tests may be required, such as a biopsy. These procedures may cause a bit of a discomfort but are guaranteed safe and can be done in just a few minutes.
Seeking a consultation with a dermatologist, even when symptoms are mild, will help make treatment easier and will effectively reduce the potentially lasting effects of dermatological conditions on the affected body part, such as long-term damage to the skin, hair, nails, and so on.
- American Academy of Dermatology