9 surprising facts your dermatologist wants you to know

Photo by ThinkstockPhoto by ThinkstockMaintaining a healthy, glowing complexion is a big beauty goal for most of us, but, whether you're a teenager or middle aged, great skin isn't always easy to achieve with products alone-sometimes you need the help of an expert.

We asked Dr. Ava Shamban, a California-based dermatologist and author of the upcoming book "Heal Your Skin: The Breakthrough Plan for Renewal" about mistakes patients make when it comes to their skin and how to get the most out of every doctor visit. Below are her top bits of advice for patients.

1. Don't be embarrassed by your acne-most adult patients have it

"In my practice, more than 50 percent of the patients have acne-it's the most common reason people see the dermatologist," says Dr. Shamban, who explains that half the population are acne sufferers, and they typically range from 12 to 30 years old. "Acne may last two, or up to 10 years, but while you have it, it really needs to be treated."

2. There are "good" patients and "bad" patients, whichever you are affects how you're treated
Bad patients will enter an appointment without thinking about what they want from the doctor and without being able to clearly identify their symptoms and/or the pattern of their skincare problem. Bad patients are also resistant to change. To get the most out of your derm appointment, Dr, Shamban suggests: "A good patient comes into the office prepared with a list of questions, a clear idea of what they want to learn at the visit and is open to suggestions about changing their lifestyle along with their skin care. It helps to bring in all of their skin care products too." She says it's also important to show up with a freshly cleansed face and info on the onset of your symptoms and prior treatments.

3. You don't need to pay a lot for skincare medications, in fact, you can probably get them for free!

Little known fact: Skin treatment freebies are given away (in small amounts) all of the time. Once a dermatologist has prescribed a treatment and you know which medication you need, Dr. Shamban suggests contacting the pharmaceutical company directly to get a free trial: "Companies frequently give away samples of medications for common skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis and eczema."

4. Don't expect your dermatologist to perform a miracle

"Patients often believe that their skin condition can clear up like magic-like how it happens on 'House' or 'Grey's Anatomy.' These shows unfortunately have set up unrealistic expectations as to how rapidly a long standing medical condition may respond to treatment. Also, some skin conditions are chronic, like those brought on by diabetes, and require ongoing treatment, and there's just no cure."

5. Clear skin takes more time (and patience) than most clients expect
"Depending on the condition, it can take anywhere from one month to one year to clear. A rash, if a contact allergy, can be treated in as short of a period as one week, but acne can take as long as 6 to 12 weeks to really get under control," Dr. Shamban says.

6. You may think you know your skin, but we know better
For true success you have to listen to-and follow to the letter!- your skin doctor's advice. Many patients think they "get" their own skin better than a doctor will-but derms are truly experts in their field. "After completing medical school and internship, a physician enters into a three-year residency to obtain specialty training in dermatology," says Dr, Shamban. Which means, when she tells you not to pop your blackheads, she knows what she's talking about.

7. There's no real cure for eczema
Some doctors may suggest they have the ability to make your condition go away, but to be clear, there is no actual cure. There are treatments for children, and eczema can eventually disappear on its own for no known reason, but if you still have it later on in life, you're stuck with it. "It may wax and wane in terms of severity, but if you have eczema as an adult it is for life," explains Dr. Shamban.

8. Check ahead, because most treatments are not covered by insurance
Call your insurance company and find out your coverage before agreeing to any skincare service. Every carrier is different and the specific treatments included in your plan can vary immensely, and your dermatologist often won't discuss this with you. Unscrupulous doctors can prescribe an array of in-office treatments that will never be covered, and you'll get stuck footing a bill that can lead into the thousands of dollars. Dr. Shamban says that while medical appointments for medically-related dermatological conditions by in-network doctors are usually picked up by insurance companies, it's not always the case. Also, most any cosmetic treatments-lasers, injectables for wrinkles, and medical facials-are rarely picked up by the insurance company.

9. Dermatologists cannot fix your self esteem.
More and more patients are heading to the dermatologist for an emotional fix, which obviously can't be done. Dr. Shamban says that while acne or age spots on your face may be bringing you down, it's important to remember that dermatologists can only work on your appearance, not what's going on inside. "In general, patients need to see a therapist to work out issues that have nothing to do with their skin that have affected their self esteem."


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