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How to Best Use Telehealth With Psoriasis

Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on October 19, 2020

If you have psoriasis, you might be wondering if it’s safe to see your doctor during the COVID-19 pandemic. But even during this crisis, it’s important to keep getting checkups and to make appointments for new symptoms or medical concerns. Your doctor can help you watch for signs of conditions linked to psoriasis, like heart disease and diabetes. They can also make sure your treatment plan is working.

Thanks to technology, it’s still possible to get the medical attention you need and stay safe from the coronavirus. You may be able to make a telehealth appointment instead of seeing your doctor in person. This kind of visit lets you meet with your doctor by video using a computer, tablet, or phone. They can ask you about your health and whether you have any concerns or changes in your body or mood. You can also show them areas of your skin or other parts of your body affected by psoriasis, such as your joints. And you can talk about your treatment plan to see if you need to make changes, such as trying a different medication.

When Can I Use Telehealth Instead of Going to the Doctor’s Office?

Your doctor is most likely to recommend a telehealth appointment for a routine checkup or for minor health issues, like a slight psoriasis flare. They may want to see you in person if:

  • They need to take a biopsy of a plaque or other areas of your skin.
  • You have new pain in your skin or joints, or pain that’s getting worse.
  • You have skin plaques that won’t stop bleeding.
  • You show signs of a skin infection such as pain, redness, swelling, pus, skin that’s hot to the touch, or a fever. 
  • You have new symptoms, such as weight gain, dizziness, or a racing heart. These can be symptoms of health conditions linked to psoriasis, such as diabetes and heart disease.
  • You need testing, such as an X-ray or bloodwork.

When in doubt, ask your doctor if you need to make an appointment. It could be dangerous to ignore new symptoms or changes in your health. If you need to have an in-person visit, you can lower your odds of getting COVID-19 by taking safety measures like wearing a cloth mask over your nose and mouth, washing your hands or using hand sanitizer, and staying at least 6 feet away from other people while you’re in the office.

Injection Tips for Moderate to Severe PsoriasisShots are a great option for people who have moderate to severe psoriasis. Find out what you should know.106

[MUSIC PLAYING]

JOSEPH PAYNE: There are

multiple treatment options

for patients

with moderate to severe plaque

psoriasis.

And for some patients,

injections are the best method.

If your disease is greater

than approximately 5%

of your body's surface,

and, certainly, if it's

beyond say 10%,

this is something that you

should definitely

be entertaining as an option.



These medicines are kind

of tinkering

with your immune system

slightly.

You should be thinking about,

is this going to make

my immune system function

in a way

other than how it's supposed to?



The things that we're really

concerned about is infection

risk.

It is something that you just

kind of have to watch in terms

of the either number, frequency,

duration, or severity.

For the most part, we're talking

about bacterial infections,

things like staph infections,

urinary tract infections.

But you also have

mycobacterial infections

like tuberculosis.



For most people, they're not

going to notice any difference

in the number of infections

that they see.

We recommend to patients who

either have immune disorders

or perhaps they are in the midst

of battling a cancer to not

be on these biologic medicines,

and so we try to find

other alternatives.



The medicines do such a good job

of keeping things under control,

the patients sometimes feel as

though they're cured.

So my advice would be, stay

on schedule

with their injections,

regardless of how well

their psoriasis is responding.

Joseph R. Payne, MD<br>Dermatologist, Dermatology Association of Atlanta /delivery/aws/cd/e8/cde8310b-bbf3-3325-aec3-56b31c0132bf/funded-expert-feature-psoriasis-injection-tips_,4500k,2500k,1000k,750k,400k,.mp412/11/2019 12:00:0018001200photo of psoriasis on hands/webmd/consumer_assets/site_images/article_thumbnails/video/psoriasis_injection_tips_video/1800x1200_psoriasis_injection_tips_video.jpg091e9c5e81dcfa58

What Should I Do During a Telehealth Visit?

If your doctor recommends a telehealth visit, you can take a few steps to make sure you have a successful appointment.

  • If you’re not sure telehealth visits are covered by your insurance, call your insurance company or ask your doctor’s office to verify that the visit is billed like an in-person appointment. You’ll want to find out if the copay is the same, too.
  • Make sure you have the same information you’d bring to an in-person doctor’s appointment, such as an insurance card and photo ID, ready during check-in.
  • Before your visit, make sure your internet is working well. Choose an area of your home that’s well-lit and quiet. If you need technical help, ask your doctor’s office if someone at the front desk or in their IT department can give you a hand.
  • Have a list of your current medications ready, as well as a list of topics or questions you want to discuss during the visit. Show your doctor areas on your body that you’re concerned about, like new plaques. Remember that if they have a hard time seeing something or want to do more testing, they’ll let you know that it’s time to schedule an in-person visit.
  • Make sure you mention all symptoms or issues you’re having, even if they don’t seem related to psoriasis. Psoriasis is linked to many health conditions, including bone loss, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome. That’s why it’s important to tell your doctor about your overall health, not just your skin, nails, and joints.
WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Don’t Avoid Your Doctor During the Coronavirus Pandemic.”

National Psoriasis Foundation: “3 Ways to Improve Your Telehealth Visit.”

International Psoriasis Council: “IPC Statement on COVID-19 and Psoriasis.”

Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology: “Association of outdoor activity restriction and income loss with patient-reported outcomes of psoriasis during the COVID-19 pandemic: A web-based survey.”

Loma Linda University: “Psoriasis.”

Alka Gupta, MD, co-director of integrative health and wellbeing, Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian.

The Lancet: “Physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection to prevent person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis.”

National Psoriasis Foundation: "Health Conditions Linked to Psoriasis.”

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