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Is it safe to see a dermatologist now?

Patient safety remains a top priority for dermatologists

To help patients safely get the care they need, dermatologists and their staff have made some changes to in-office appointments.

Close-up of dermatologist examining mole on back of male patient

As medical offices re-open during the coronavirus era, patients are wondering, “Is it safe to get in-office care?” Dermatologists understand this concern. To help keep you safe, they’ve put many new policies into place. These new policies can vary slightly according to state and local guidelines.

In general, here’s what you can expect.

Before your appointment

Woman scratching her arm during telemedicine appointment
Telemedicine may be an option: Whether you call or book online, be sure to explain why you want to see a dermatologist. Your explanation allows staff to figure out whether an in-office or telemedicine appointment can deliver the care you need.

A telemedicine appointment allows you to meet with your dermatologist from the comfort and safety of your home, using your smartphone or computer. If a telemedicine appointment cannot fulfill your needs, you’ll be scheduled for an in-office appointment. You can also request a telemedicine appointment,

Learn more about setting up and preparing for a telemedicine appointment at, Telemedicine: Overview.

Daughter giving senior mother a ride to doctor appointment
Limit on visitors: If someone usually goes with you to your dermatology appointment, ask if you can bring someone with you. To protect patients’ health, the American Medical Association recommends that doctors limit visitors (people who aren’t patients) during the coronavirus pandemic. The American Academy of Dermatology suggests that any person accompanying you to an appointment wait in the car or outside the office while you receive care.

If you’re making an appointment for your child, only one parent may be allowed in the office. If you need physical assistance, or have a vision or hearing disability, talk to your dermatologist’s office to see if someone can go with you to your visit.

Paperwork completed online: To eliminate lines at the reception desk, you may be asked to complete all pre-appointment paperwork online.

Close-up of man with vitiligo on hands using cell phone
Pre-screening call: To keep patients and staff safe, you may receive a phone call before an in-office appointment. You’ll be asked if you have any of the following:

  • Signs or symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as a cough, sore throat, fever, or shortness of breath

  • Loss of taste or smell, runny nose, diarrhea, or nausea

  • Had recent close contact with someone who was diagnosed with COVID-19

During this call, you may also be told what precautions to expect when you arrive. For example, you may need to call or text the office when you arrive and wait in your car instead of the waiting room.

Within 24 hours of your appointment

Woman patient wearing medical face mask goes through a temperature check before going into to doctor's office
Second pre-screening call: This may seem repetitive, but screening calls help to prevent anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 from entering the office. If you receive a second screening call, you will again be asked about your symptoms and whether you (or someone close to you) has recently been around someone who has COVID-19.

You may also be reminded of what you need to do when you arrive at the office. While safety measures can differ, you may be required to:

  • Wear a face mask.

  • Have your temperature taken when you enter the office.

  • Answer questions about how you’re feeling.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to anyone recently diagnosed with COVID-19, you will be asked to leave and contact your primary care doctor. You can reschedule your dermatology appointment for a later date.

On the day of your appointment

Patients wearing face masks and social distancing in dermatologist’s waiting room
Social distancing: To avoid close contact with other patients, you may need to call or text the office when you arrive. You may be asked to wait in your car or an outdoor area instead of the waiting room.

If the waiting room is open, you may be asked to leave space between yourself and other patients. To make this easier, the office may have fewer seats.

You may also notice that some items, such as magazines, pens, and coffee stations, are no longer available.

Your dermatologist may also be limiting the number of patients seen each day to allow for social distancing.

Portrait of female doctor wearing personal protective equipment
More personal protective equipment (PPE): To keep everyone safe, all medical staff wear PPE, which may include face masks, face shields, gloves, and disposable gowns.

To keep you safe, dermatologists and their staff are also monitoring their own health. Any staff members who have symptoms of COVID-19 must leave the office and contact their primary care doctor.

Staff are also keeping the entire office clean and sanitized.

Exam room cleaned and sanitized for you: After your appointment, the exam room will again be cleaned and sanitized before the next patient is seen in that room.

After your appointment, you may be asked to skip the check-out line and immediately leave the office. You may need to check out and make follow-up appointments by phone or through your patient portal. This eliminates a line in the office.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused many patients to delay care

Although the pandemic has caused many people to postpone seeking medical care, it’s important to continue caring for your health. Skin cancer and many other skin, hair, and nail conditions still need to be treated to prevent them from getting worse and help you stay your healthiest.

Dermatologists are committed to providing you with a safe place to go when you need care. If you have concerns about your skin, hair, or nails, but are worried about visiting a doctor’s office during the coronavirus pandemic, call your dermatologist’s office. Together, you can discuss your options to get the care you need for a new or existing condition.

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