8 Tips for Choosing a Dermatologist

  • dermatologist-examining-patients-skin
    A Personal Decision
    Almost anyone can benefit from seeing a dermatologist. A dermatologist can help teens and adults control acne, improve the appearance of their skin, and prevent skin cancer. Choosing a dermatologist is an important and personal decision, especially if you have a skin condition. How do you find the best dermatologist who is right for you? Here are some important factors to keep in mind.

  • Woman talking on phone in office setting
    1. Get Referrals
    Start with a referral list of dermatologists from your primary care doctor. Also ask family, friends, and other healthcare providers for recommendations. Take the time to research the doctors’ credentials and experience on Healthgrades.com. With a list of a few names, call each dermatologist’s office to see if he or she is accepting new patients. Ask the receptionist for a consult appointment to meet and interview the dermatologist.

  • Doctor standing outside with stethoscope
    2. Research the Dermatologist’s Credentials
    Board certification is one of the most important factors to consider when you are finding a dermatologist. It tells you that the doctor has the necessary training, skills and experience to provide healthcare in dermatology. Also confirm that the dermatologist has no history of malpractice claims or disciplinary actions. You can find the dermatologist’s medical school, training hospital, certifications, and malpractice and disciplinary history on Healthgrades.com and state websites.

  • Doctor examining mole on male patient
    3. Consider the Dermatologist’s Experience
    Experience matters when you’re facing issues with the appearance or health of your skin, hair or nails. The more experience a dermatologist has with a condition or procedure, the better your results are likely to be. Fellowship training in a subspecialty like skin cancer surgery or hair and nail disorders is extremely valuable. Ask how many patients with your specific condition the dermatologist has treated. If you know you need a specific procedure, ask how many of the procedures the doctor has performed and find out about complication rates—complications the doctor has encountered as well as your own risk of complications.


  • Male doctor consulting with female doctor
    4. Consider Gender
    It’s important to feel comfortable with your dermatologist’s gender because you will need to openly discuss personal information. When it comes to dermatology, your own gender is also an important consideration. Dermatologists are becoming more skilled in caring for women and men differently. Ask the dermatologist about his or her recent training and experience specifically related to your condition and your gender.

  • African American male doctor typing on laptop at desk in office
    5. Ask About Telehealth Capabilities
    Healthcare providers can diagnose and treat some patients using telecommunications technology, including two-way video, smartphones, and email; it's called telehealth. Ask if the doctor offers telehealth capabilities. Telehealth doesn’t replace hands-on in-person office visits, but for many patients, it means fewer trips to the doctor’s office. Some conditions can be managed by sending symptoms and vital signs you collect at home and having a “virtual visit” with your provider. Telehealth can also be used for routine follow-ups and minor complaints too, making it a convenient option. Check to make sure your health insurance will pay for telehealth services.

  • Female doctor with female patient
    6. Evaluate Communication Style
    Choose a dermatologist with whom you are comfortable talking and who supports your information needs. When you first meet the dermatologist, ask a question and notice how he or she responds. Does he or she welcome your questions and answer them in ways that you can understand? During the visit did you feel rushed or engaged? Find a dermatologist who shows an interest in getting to know you, who will consider your treatment preferences, and who will respect your decision-making process.


  • Smiling woman with good skin
    7. Read Patient Reviews
    Reading what other people have to say about a doctor can provide insight into how a doctor practices medicine, as well as how his or her medical practice is operated. Patient reviews typically reflect people's experience with scheduling appointments, wait times, office environment, and office staff friendliness. You can learn how well patients trust the doctor, how much time he or she spends with their patients, and how well he or she answers questions.

  • Health insurance written on black board
    8. Know What Your Insurance Covers
    Your insurance coverage is a practical matter. To receive the most insurance benefits and pay the least out-of-pocket for your care, you may need to choose a dermatologist who participates in your plan. You should still consider credentials, experience, outcomes, and hospital quality as you select a dermatologist from your plan.

8 Tips for Choosing a Dermatologist

About The Author

Sarah Lewis is a pharmacist and a medical writer with over 25 years of experience in various areas of pharmacy practice. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy degree from West Virginia University and a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy. She completed Pharmacy Practice Residency training at the University of Pittsburgh/VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. 
  1. Dao H Jr, Kazin RA. Gender differences in skin: a review of the literature. Gend Med. 2007;4(4):308-28.
  2. Giacomoni PU, Mammone T, Teri M. Gender-linked differences in human skin. J Dermatol Sci. 2009 Sep;55(3):144-9.
  3. Specialty and Subspecialty Certificates. American Board of Medical Specialties. http://www.abms.org/member-boards/specialty-subspecialty-certificates/
  4. What are the risk factors for basal and squamous cell skin cancers? American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/skincancer-basalandsquamouscell/detailedguide/skin-cancer-basal-and-squ...
  5. What are the risk factors for melanoma? American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/skincancer-melanoma/detailedguide/melanoma-skin-cancer-risk-factors
  6. About dermatology. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/about-dermatology
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