The Five Things Your Dermatologist Wishes You’d Stop Doing

By August 9, 2018

One of our resident Soko Glam Skin Experts polled top dermatologists about what their biggest patient pet peeves are. Read on to learn what to avoid if you want to be a model patient.

If you’re a frequent reader, you likely know me as The Klog’s resident dermatologist ambassador. Have you followed my advice and set up an appointment with a dermatologist yet? Yes? Great! Before you go, there are a few ways you can ensure that your appointment and future relationship go smoothly. Below, I share the things that derms would really, really love for you to avoid.

Not Following Instructions 

This will consistently tick off any doctor, not just dermatologists. A doctor-patient relationship is a partnership. The doctor does their part by examining and assessing you, and then prescribing and recommending the necessary treatments. It’s up to you to do your part and follow their instructions if you want to see results.

You know those friends who always come to you for advice, and then never take it but continue to complain about it every time you see them? Don’t be that person with your derm.

And don’t lie about following their advice if you haven’t been, either. Your dermatologist will know if you’ve actually been sticking to the treatment plan they gave you for the prescribed length of time.

Fun story: One of my derm friends was telling me about a patient who was frustrated that their sunspots were not getting any better. When the doctor asked if they had been diligently using the sunscreen they recommended a few appointments back, the patient responded “Yes.” However, through more questions, the doctor discovered that the patient had been using the same bottle of sunscreen for two years. If you’re applying the appropriate amount of sunscreen on your face daily, there is absolutely no way that a regular-sized bottle will last you that long. It’s mathematically impossible!

“But I Read on the Internet…”

Patient education is a good thing. Clearly, we are all for having more educated consumers regarding skin care. However, be respectful of the fact that your doctor takes pride in their work and puts effort in getting the latest, most accurate information out there. Although voicing your concerns is always encouraged and valid, contradicting your doctor based on something you read from some unverified source on the Internet is not a good idea if you want to preserve a healthy relationship.

If you feel tempted to go against your doctor’s advice based on something you read online or heard from a friend of a friend, it’s a sign that the patient-doctor relationship is lacking trust, and that’s a bigger issue to address.

“Is This safe?”

Your dermatologist is not a Ponzi-scheming salesperson. Unless they’re an extremely sleazy doctor (in which case, run away!), they’re not going to prescribe you or recommend something that doesn’t suit your needs and concerns just to fill a sales quota. Asking a doctor if something is safe is like asking a chef if their food is edible. Doctors take the Hippocratic oath, the first tenet of which is, “Do no harm”. By asking if what the doctor is prescribing is safe, you’re undermining their commitment to their serious professional oaths.

If you are genuinely concerned about the potential complications or side effects of a product or treatment, make your doctor aware of this and give them an opportunity to inform you and answer any questions you might have.

Being Late/Unprepared for Your Appointment

Contrary to popular belief, doctors like sticking to their schedule, seeing all their patients on time, and getting out of work on time. Help them – and your fellow patients – out by being on time for your appointment.

Another way you can help things run smoothly, is to be clear about your skin concerns when scheduling the appointment. The doctor’s office will allot a certain amount of time for your appointment based on what concern you want addressed, so if you say you need a simple wart removal, but then ask about every little skin issue you can think of, it’s going to impact the doctor’s schedule for the rest of the day. If you find yourself opening up to your doctor and realize you have many concerns beyond what you initially believed, schedule another appointment.

If your doctor does tend to run behind, call the front desk about an hour before your appointment and ask if the doctor is running on schedule.

Haggling

The doctors I know are generally very accommodating when it comes to finding a cost-effective solution that addresses your concerns. However, you would never go to Saks Fifth Avenue and ask them to discount a Chanel bag just because you really really want it, would you? Similarly, if you’re going to a dermatologist for an aesthetic treatment, don’t try to haggle with them. Unless it’s medically advised for hyperhidrosis or some form of muscular issue, Botox is a luxury product. A doctor sets their prices for these treatments according to a variety of factors, such as extended training, expertise, and experience.

Bottom Line

The key to effective medical treatment is a successful patient-doctor relationship. Respect your doctor’s expertise, respect their staff, respect their schedule, and respect the time they took to treat you by following the treatment plan they develop with you, and you’ll walk away with a great experience. Of course, mutual respect is the bedrock of any successful relationship, so if you feel like your derm is not holding up their end of the bargain, check out our guide for finding a good fit here.

+Do you have any other questions about going to the dermatologist? Share them below!