Your GP will generally be your first point of contact. GPs can prescribe medication for you, coordinate your treatment, or refer you for assessment by hospital specialists.
GPs spend an average of 8-10 minutes with each patient, so it’s important to make the most of this time. Before going into your appointment, it can be helpful to write down a list of your symptoms, including when they started and what can make them better or worse. As well as your symptoms it can help to write down any questions you have in advance so that you don’t forget to ask them.
You can bring a friend or relative into your appointment if you’re worried, and if you don’t understand something your GP tells you, ask them to repeat and explain it further.
Be honest about what may be causing the problem, and don’t be embarrassed: your GP will have seen and heard it all before. It is also important to explain to your doctor if your skin condition is having an impact on your day-to-day life, such as your work, relationships, and sleep.
If you’re not satisfied with your GP’s advice, you may want to consider getting a second opinion. Although you’re not legally entitled to a second opinion, a healthcare professional will rarely refuse. You may feel happier with a different GP but be aware they may give you the same advice.
For many skin conditions, depending on the severity, it is completely appropriate for your treatment to be managed by your GP, however, in some cases it may be necessary for you to be referred to a specialist. In some cases, your condition will be managed by your GP at first but may warrant referral after initial treatments have been exhausted.
In some instances, your GP may use a service called Dermatology Advice and Guidance to obtain an expert opinion on your condition. A camera will be used to take high-quality photos of your skin, the photos are then sent digitally, along with supporting clinical information, to a dermatology specialist for diagnosis and treatment advice. The service is designed to help your GP to provide treatment in the community, or refer you to see the right specialist, in the right place, and with the right priority.