Dealing with Doctors

Everybody does it, whether you’re visiting a new doctor, or someone you see all the time; we’ve all sat there and forgotten what we wanted to say, or come out and felt that we didn’t quite get our point across, or didn’t ask something important.

Whether it’s that you’re a little nervous, or you just have so much to say you can’t remember it all, here are some tips for dealing with your doc.

Tips for dealing with docs

  • Write down what you want to say before you go in. Make a few notes about any symptoms or feelings you’re experiencing, or any questions you’d like to ask. That way, everything’s in front of you so you won’t forget, and if you get a bit tongue-tied, you can even show the doctor what you’ve written.
  • It is really important that you tell your doctor how your psoriasis is making you feel. If they don’t know, they can’t help.
  • Some people find it helps to take someone with them to the appointment, for support, or just as another pair of ears to remember what is said. You may not necessarily need a parent or guardian with you if you'd rather talk to your doctor in private, although if you're under 16 they might ask why this is the case. Anyone over 16 is considered able to make independent decisions about their medical care.
  • It’s common practice for a doctor to ask for a ‘chaperone’ if they need to examine your psoriasis in more intimate places, such as under the breasts or the groin. This happens whatever your age, and if you’ve gone to the appointment alone they might ask a nurse or receptionist to be in the room (behind a curtain, so they won’t see you), whilst you’re being examined. This is for both your, and your doctor’s, personal safety.
  • Take information with you. If you’ve contacted the Psoriasis Association or another reliable organisation, take the information with you to the doctor to discuss. Our lists of scalp treatments and other topicals are especially helpful, as you can tick off which treatments you’ve tried, and look at what others are available.
  • Keep track of your psoriasis. A good way to do this is to take photos, draw pictures, or make notes in a diary describing your patches of psoriasis. Do this throughout your time using a treatment. Then, when you visit your doctor, the two of you can easily see any progress that’s been made, and decide on the next move.
  • Make notes, or, if you’re not a fast scribbler,take a dictaphone. This way, if you do forget everything once you’ve walked out of your doctor’s office, you have a back up.
  • Remember that during any visit to a doctor - whether a GP or hospital consultant - your appointment is a time for discussion. You’re perfectly entitled to ask questions and to give your opinion.
  • Don’t be afraid to tell your doctor if you’re not getting on with a treatment they’ve prescribed. There are different formulations you can try, and no treatment is going to work if it’s just sitting in the bathroom or if you’re only using it occasionally. Tell them what it is you don’t like about it. You’re more likely to get better results from a treatment you can use properly.
  • If you’re unsure about something a doctor’s told you, or you don’t think you’re being listened to, talk to a pharmacist, or contact the Psoriasis Association for information and advice. If you’ve done this and you’re still unhappy about your treatment, remember you have the right to ask to see a different GP, ask for a second opinion, or make an official complaint.
  • Use the nurses! GP Surgeries usually have Practice Nurses, and hospital Dermatology departments will have specialist Dermatology nurses. Ask them to demonstrate the best way to apply each treatment, and for any tips and tricks they might know.
  • Try not to be embarrassed. It’s easier said than done, but the truth is that doctors and nurses spend all day every day looking at naked bodies, all of which are different.

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