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Building Your Psoriasis Care Team

Medically Reviewed by Debra Jaliman, MD on April 29, 2020

To manage your psoriasis, you’ll need ongoing care. And your treatment may change throughout your life. You may need to see a dermatologist and other specialists as well as your primary doctor.

You can get psoriasis in sensitive areas, like your genitals. So it’s important to find doctors you feel comfortable with. Here are some tips on how to find the best doctors and specialists for you.

What Kind of Doctor Treats Psoriasis?

It’s best to see a board-certified dermatologist. That’s a skin doctor with a lot of training. But if you want an appointment quickly, you may need to see your primary doctor. They might be able to diagnose and manage your milder symptoms.

How to Find a Psoriasis Doctor

If you're looking for people to treat your psoriasis, there are a few ways you can find who you're looking for.

Visit your regular doctor. They can check your general health and look for other conditions related to your psoriasis. They’ll also help you find the right specialists. They might refer you to a:

  • Board-certified dermatologist. They’ll handle most of your psoriasis treatment. If you have a child with psoriasis, you may want to take them to a pediatric dermatologist. To find out if a doctor is board-certified, ask them or check the American Academy of Dermatology website.
  • Rheumatologist. This is a doctor who specializes in treating arthritis and other problems with the joints, muscles, and bones. They can treat any joint pain caused by psoriasis. That’s called psoriatic arthritis.
  • Physical therapist. Physical therapists use exercises, equipment, and hands-on techniques to help people maintain or regain proper body movement. They’ll work with you to prevent or ease pain from psoriatic arthritis.
  • Mental health professional. If you have psoriasis, you're more likely to have depression. If you start to feel that way, you'll want to have a psychologist or psychiatrist as part of your team. They could offer things like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a way to learn techniques to help you deal with negative or disruptive thoughts in a more productive way.

Search for your team yourself. To find dermatologists and other specialists, you can use online resources from national groups like:

If you have health insurance, check with your provider to see which doctors your plan covers.

Find a medical dermatologist. Some skin doctors focus on cosmetic procedures, like Botox or laser treatment for wrinkles. They may be less experienced at treating conditions like psoriasis. Many dermatologists do both cosmetic and medical work. Look for one who has a phototherapy or excimer laser, or who often prescribes biologics.

Usetelemedicine. If you live far from a dermatologist, you may be able to schedule a video or computer visit.

Talking With a Psoriasis Doctor

You can treat your first appointment like a job interview, except your doctor is the candidate. You want to find a doctor who knows a lot about psoriasis. They should be able to answer any concerns you have about your treatment. Here’s a list of questions to get you started:

  • How many people with psoriasis do you treat every month?
  • Do you offer phototherapy?
  • Do you offer biologic treatment?
  • Should I take breaks from my steroid cream?

Bring up anything that’s bothering you, even if you think it’s not related to psoriasis. Tell your doctor if you have other health issues, like heart failure or multiple sclerosis. That will affect what kind of treatment they give you.

Questions the Psoriasis Doctor May Ask You

Psoriasis can cause other physical or mental health problems. To get you the best treatment, your doctor may want to know:

  • How much does psoriasis affect your daily life?
  • Do you have anxiety or depression?
  • Are you tired a lot?
  • Do you have trouble using your hands and feet?
  • Do you have joint pain?
  • How well do you sleep at night?
  • Have your symptoms changed or gotten worse?

 

How Often Should You See Your Doctor?

It depends on your condition and how long you’ve been on your current treatment. At first, your doctor may want to see you every few months. If they put you on a biologic drug, they’ll want to see you more often. You may need to check in every 6-12 weeks. Once your psoriasis is under control, you may only need to go in every 6 months.

When to Find a New Doctor

You can get a second (or third) opinion if you’re not happy with your care for any reason. You may find it harder to stick with treatment if you don’t like your doctor. And you should move on if your current treatment isn’t working but your doctor isn’t giving you other options.

Which Specialists Will I Need?

That will depend on your situation. For example, if your psoriasis is mild and doesn't affect your life very much, you may need only your primary doctor. If you have a flare or your symptoms are getting worse, you may want to bring in a dermatologist.

If you start to feel stiffness, pain, or tenderness in your joints, it might be time to add a rheumatologist or a physical therapist to the mix. If your psoriasis starts to take a toll on your mental health, a psychologist or psychiatrist should join the roster.

Your psoriasis doctor can help build your team as you need to expand it. Make sure everyone you see for your psoriasis knows about everyone else, so they can work together to give you the treatment you need.

Don't Forget Your Pharmacist

They can be an important part of your team. Your pharmacist can help you create a plan to make sure you can follow your doctor's instructions safely and easily, no matter how many times your plan changes. They might also be able to suggest over-the counter products that may help your treatment plan work even better.

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

Lindsey Bordone, MD, assistant professor of dermatology, Columbia University Medical Center.

Latanya Benjamin, MD, associate professor of pediatric dermatology, Florida Atlantic University.

American Academy of Dermatology: "Psoriasis Treatment Can Change During Each Stage of Life," "Psoriasis: Diagnosis and Treatment," "What Is A Dermatologist?"

National Psoriasis Foundation: "Addressing the Under-Treatment of Patients with Psoriasis: Results from patient surveys," "Dermatologist," "Your health care team," "Rheumatologist," "Physical therapy can help you manage PsA pain," "Shopping for a doc?" "Topical Treatments," "Your Care Team," "Life With Psoriasis."

American College of Physicians: "Psoriasis symptoms can be tough to address."

Dermatology: "Are Your Patients Satisfied: A Systematic Review of Treatment Satisfaction Measures in Psoriasis."

American Physical Therapy Association: "Who Are Physical Therapists?"

DermNetNZ: "Psychological effects of psoriasis"

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