When medical treatment is needed in order to achieve great skin health
It is important to recognise when skincare alone can achieve your skin goals, and when medical treatment in the form of a prescription is the best route.
Our Renude aestheticians have significant training in this area, having worked alongside doctors and dermatologists in clinics. During their initial assessment of the skin, they may decide that a prescription is the most suitable option for you to get the best results, but will not be able to prescribe directly.
We have written this short guide to help you understand the options that are available so you can make the most informed decision on the right path for you.
The first option in getting appropriate medical advice for a skin condition would be to book an appointment with your GP. Your GP will be trained on how to recognise medical skin conditions and offer a relevant prescription.
You will not typically get advice on products to complete a full skincare routine from your GP, although this is something you can ask. In general, we would always advise keeping your routine simple if you are introducing your skin to a new prescription.
Choosing a gentle, non-stripping cleanser, non-comedogenic moisturiser and sunscreen to support your prescription would be best. It’s also worth understanding if there are any side effects associated with the relevant prescription, such as drying out the skin (which is common for acne-related treatments.) If so, you may want to support this with a more nourishing moisturiser and perhaps a lip balm to counteract any drying effect on the skin and lips.
Getting referred to an NHS specialist is something that your GP might advise. The type of specialist could be a dermatologist or another GP who has completed additional specialist training in the skin. As skin conditions are very common, and the number of specialists is limited, referrals are not always an option, and it will be up to your GP to decide whether this is a suitable route for you.
In NHS dermatology departments, life-threatening cases such as suspected melanoma are prioritised. This means that people with inflammatory skin conditions like acne will typically be seen less urgently. If you are able to get an NHS dermatologist or specialist referral, it can take around 12-18 weeks for an initial consultation to take place.
Your NHS dermatologist will be able to review your skin, offer the best prescription treatment for you, and may also advise on suitable skincare products for the rest of your routine.
A private dermatologist will be able to offer the same service as an NHS dermatologist, with a full review of the skin and a prescription of the relevant treatment. They often have more time for advising on a skincare routine to support this.
The major benefit of choosing a private route, is that you can get seen much faster, and you don’t need a GP referral, so you can go directly instead of booking in with your GP first.
The drawback of working with a private dermatologist is typically the cost. This will vary depending on the specific dermatologist, but a 20-30 minute consultation typically costs £150 - £350 and you can expect to have at least 3 consultations over the course of 6-12 months (on average) to target a particular skin concern.
If you are looking to speak with a private dermatologist about your skin, the best option is to find a clinic within reasonable travelling distance from your home. It is often possible to do consultations remotely these days, although in some instances it is best for the skin to be reviewed in person so a local clinic may be more practical. This will be especially important if you need any blood tests or if you ever have a reaction to a medication and require an urgent in-person examination.
It is important to ensure that your chosen dermatologist is on the General Medical Council specialist register for dermatology. Consultant dermatologists (the title for a doctor who has completed recognised medical training and specialisation in dermatology) are listed here. To check this, you can search for their name through their website here.
If you are finding that your skin is significantly impacting your mental health, please know that you are not alone. Our advice would be to speak to a health professional, either your GP or dermatologist to ask what options are available to you.
If you are feeling anxious or depressed, you can also self-refer to Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT). They will assess your suitability for NHS psychological treatment such as cognitive behavioural therapy, without the need for a GP appointment or referral. You need to be over 18, live in England and be registered with a GP to be eligible to apply for assessment. You can read more about this here.
If you ever feel suicidal about your skin, you must ask for urgent help. Speak to family members as soon as possible, phone your GP or the Samaritans (116 123) or attend your nearest A&E department.
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