The fight against the COVID-19 pandemic has been going on for many months now. Due to the unpredictable nature of this disease, we have to do everything in our power to prioritize the safety and health of every individual. Each state in the United States continues to push news and updates with new safety guidelines and precautionary measurements to ensure everyone’s safety.
During these unprecedented times, we must try our hardest to mitigate the risks of transmission of COVID-19. To do so, dermatologists are following safety guidelines developed by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) to adequately respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.
When to See a Dermatologist
There are many reasons to visit a dermatologist even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some reasons may be more important than others.
If you have a preexisting or newly developed skin condition that needs immediate medical attention, then you should schedule an appointment for your dermatologist. While some conditions may require you to visit your dermatologist, others can be handled through teledermatology.
These virtual appointments are very beneficial because of dermatologists can visually diagnose and virtually give you consultations without running the risk of exposure to COVID-19 from overburdened medical facilities.
What to Expect When Visiting Your Dermatologist
· Clinics prescreening to determine which patients are at higher risk of adverse outcomes of COVID-19.
· Place chairs 6 feet apart when possible and the use of screens and barriers to ensure the safety of patients and healthcare workers.
· Provide tissues, soaps at sinks, alcohol-based hand rub, and trashcans.
· Remove communal objects from the office such as toys or reading materials.
· Screenings for patients and healthcare workers upon arriving/ limit non-patient visitors.
· Limit the number of employees and patients in the office space at one time.
· Clean frequently touched surfaces.
· Wear face masks and gloves.
· Implement strategies to triage and separate sick patients.
When to Utilize Telemedicine
Telemedicine is a way for dermatologists and patients to mitigate unnecessary in-person contact by consulting completely electronically. With the increasing use of technology, telemedicine is a safe way to consult dermatologists.
If you are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19, make sure to stay at home and utilize telemedicine options to seek care. Patients can make remote virtual appointments with their dermatologists for non-urgent medical needs. This may include a routine follow-up, questions about medication or refills, or to discuss anything that does not require immediate medical attention.
Based on the initial evaluation of the situation done by the dermatologist remotely, they can assess whether or not an in-person visit is necessary or if the issue can be managed. Many issues dealing with the skin can be evaluated electronically, reducing the need for unnecessary contact.
If you believe your issue is non-urgent or can be dealt with without coming into direct contact with your dermatologist, telemedicine visits may be a good option.
The patient may directly video-chat the dermatologist, or they can upload pictures and questions for the dermatologist to review at a later time, depending on the situation. Telemedicine has become popular over recent years and increasingly so during the pandemic. Consult with your dermatologist to see if they offer remote telemedical services.