If you have psoriasis, it’s important to keep getting medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s crucial to keep psoriasis-related pain and inflammation under control so you can stay healthy now and in the future. On top of that, psoriasis makes you more likely to get conditions like heart disease and diabetes, many of which make you more vulnerable to serious COVID-19 complications. A doctor can look for signs of other health conditions and make sure you’re on a treatment plan that works.
While you may be able to do some doctor visits using telehealth, there will also be times when it’s best to see a doctor in person. Here’s what you need to know.
When to Schedule an In-Person Visit
There are times when your doctor will want to meet with you in person so they can examine your skin, joints, and nails or to do tests that they can’t do through a video call. Signs that you may need an in-person visit include:
- Skin pain that’s new or getting worse
- Skin plaques that won’t stop bleeding
- New joint pain, or when stiff, achy joints are getting worse
- Changes in your fingernails, such as pocking or deep ridges
- Signs of a skin infection, like pain, redness, swelling, pus, skin that’s hot to the touch, and a fever
- New health problems, such as weight gain, dizziness, or a racing heart. These can be signs of health conditions linked to psoriasis, such as diabetes and heart disease.
If you have tests like bloodwork or an MRI scheduled, ask your doctor whether you should still get them as scheduled or if you should wait.
If you’re scheduled for a regular checkup and aren’t having new symptoms or a flare-up, your doctor may recommend doing a telehealth visit instead.
Before You Go to Your Appointment
If your doctor recommends an in-person visit, there are steps you can take to stay as safe as possible during your appointment. Call your clinic or check its website to find out how it’s handling COVID-19 safety. All health care providers should:
- Require all staff and visitors to wear masks.
- Regularly clean and sanitize waiting rooms and appointment rooms.
- Make sure that all staff and visitors stay at least 6 feet apart. Keep in mind that your doctor or nurse will be close to you during certain parts of your examination, but that’s the exception to the rule.
- Limit the number of people allowed in the clinic at the same time.
- Have separate entrances and spaces for patients with COVID-19.
- Screen all visitors for COVID-19 symptoms (such as shortness of breath and fever) before letting them come inside the building.
At the Doctor’s Office
Simple safety measures can lower your risk of getting COVID-19 or other viruses and infections. Be sure to:
- Wear a cloth face mask over your nose and mouth. Your doctor’s office should be able to give one to you if you don’t have one. If you need to talk, cough, or sneeze, don’t remove your mask to do so. You can also cough or sneeze into your elbow while wearing your mask, or cover your mask with a tissue.
- Use hand sanitizers or wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after your visit.
- Don’t touch any part of your face, especially your eyes, nose, and mouth, during your visit. And don’t touch your face after your visit until you’ve cleaned your hands.
- Stay at least 6 feet away from other people at the clinic. This includes when you’re in line to check in, in hallways, and in the waiting room.
- Use a tissue or wear gloves to open doors or touch surfaces like handrails, elevator buttons, or credit card machines.
- Ask if the clinic offers billing by mail or electronic billing so you don’t have to linger at the reception area or touch more surfaces than necessary. If you need to pay using your credit card, cash, or check, use hand sanitizer or wash your hands after you’re done.
If your doctor prescribes medicine for you, ask them to call your pharmacy directly so you don’t have to fill the prescription yourself. If you’re able to, use drive-thru windows, curbside pickup, or a delivery service to get your medicines so you don’t have to interact with more people than necessary.