A lot of things about your skin are out of your control; the stress, unpredictable flare-ups, and mental anguish that accompany an autoimmune condition can be debilitating. One thing you can control (and that can impact all aspects of your skin condition) is the selection of your psoriasis, eczema, vitiligo or other skin treatment. Being proactive means doing your own research and asking the right questions about your skin treatment. EveryBODY is different; what may work for one person may not necessarily work for you. Phototherapy is a safe, effective option that isn’t always presented as the first plan of attack; always rest assured that other alternatives exist, and could be the skin treatment you’ve been searching for.
What skin treatment options has your doctor given you?
Your relationship with your primary care physician is one that is built on trust and understanding. While your doctor most definitely chose their profession to help others, some health professionals can become overwhelmingly busy and thus distracted. Doing some basic research about your skin treatment options will help you ask your doctor important questions that will steer the conversation in the right direction (without wasting time).
Other than time restraints, doctors are also contacted by pharmaceutical reps countless times a month, leaving them with those brands in the forefront of their minds. An article published on consumerreports.org stated, “Our patient survey suggests that’s a possible point of friction. Patients were less satisfied when they thought their doctors relied too much on prescription drugs and were unwilling to consider nontraditional or nondrug treatments. More than one-quarter of patients indicated some level of discomfort with their doctors’ inclination to prescribe drugs. If you are concerned about your doctor’s relationship with pharmaceutical companies, don’t hesitate to bring up the subject at your next visit.”
Make sure you feel fully informed and aware of your condition as well as the options available for treatment. Popular remedies can be presented as the ONLY effective skin treatment option when in fact other approaches like phototherapy can be safer and yield better results.
Have you weighed the pros and cons of your skin treatment?
There are side effects attached to any medication or skin treatment you will try, some are just more serious than others; the FDA approves drugs safe as long as a medicine’s benefits outweighs its known risks. What does this mean for consumers? Educated choices are more important than anything when selecting your treatment. Knowing your allergies, keeping an updated list of all your medications, and going over an in-depth health history with your doctor can help you decide if a medicine is worth trying. It is also important to know exactly how your skin treatment should work, when it will become effective, and what you can expect for side-effects.
When you start to do your own research about your prescriptions, things can become overwhelming. A good rule of thumb and way to decide if something is worth the risk is understanding what you want from your skin treatment. The FDA says, “You must decide what risks you can and will accept in order to get the benefits you want. For example, if facing a life-threatening illness, you might choose to accept more risk in the hope of getting the benefits of a cure or living a longer life. On the other hand, if you are facing a minor illness, you might decide that you want to take very little risk. In many situations, the expert advice of your doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare professionals can help you make the decision.”
What are other people saying about a particular skin treatment?
Often times you may feel alone when dealing with your condition; it may seem like you are ostracized, misunderstood, or even fighting a battle by yourself. The good news? Many people out there are asking themselves the same questions and there are places they are having these conversations. Online support forums are becoming more and more popular and are popping up everywhere on the web. You can search for almost any ailment and an online community is there to answer your questions or offer advice. These anonymous blogs cover the simplest to the most hard to talk about subjects, allowing all members to interact and offer input when they feel like they can help.
One of the most attractive features of this resource is tapping into a network of people who offer an unbiased opinion. It is within these forums that you can find users talking about how a certain biologic, ointment, or oral drug worked for them. You can ask about side effects, efficacy rates, remission times, or any other topic that a patient could answer better than a doctor. If you’re finding yourself skeptical about a skin treatment that was prescribed to you, chances are there is someone in a forum near you willing and ready to discuss it.
The reviews and input of your peers can be a great indicator of what direction you should take with your skin treatment if you’re feeling unsure. As a rule, these forums should serve as a complement to your doctor’s suggestions and not as a replacement for them. Like any other resource available to us, we must take everything into consideration before forming an educated decision on what our next steps should be.
What can you afford?
If we had zero limitations when it came to optimizing our health, we would always be in peak physical and mental condition. Imagine a world of free gym memberships, cheap medical supplements, cabinets full of organic food, and problem-free skin? Unfortunately, our finances and insurance coverage make this perfect place one that only exists in our imaginations; high medical costs or no coverage often limit our choices.
Before you decide on whether you’ll be using an ointment, getting an injection of a biologic, or undergoing phototherapy treatment, you’ll have to examine both your budget and your insurance plan. Breaking down the costs on an annual basis is useful in seeing the reality of how much you are spending instead of letting a one-time-payment deter you. Without insurance coverage, prescriptions for biologics can be pricey. An article on Web MD states that, “Biologic drugs are expensive. Depending on the drug and the dose, they can cost $10,000 to $30,000 a year.”
At-home phototherapy systems are an excellent alternative for someone who is looking to purchase a unit and avoid recurring costs. Depending on the unit, phototherapy systems for home use can cost anywhere from $500-7,200 without insurance coverage. The payment is a one-time fee, or you can finance your unit, and after that you avoid incurring any other expenses other than routine maintenance. A feature on medscape.com delves into the details of cost-breakdown and writes, “for long-term treatment of psoriasis for select patients, [home phototherapy] may prove to be the most economical option.”
For people who have medical coverage, some companies hire insurance liaisons who work to get your skin treatment covered any way they can. These professionals will handle your claim from beginning to end and deal with the seemingly impossible task of working with your insurance company. Next time you’re researching skin treatments, check and see if the company has an insurance portal where you can ask questions and get answers about your health insurance and what it will pay for.
Always ask yourself these four important questions when you are narrowing down your skin treatment options. What is someone else, might not be the best for you, and it never hurts to ask your doctor about something you have found while doing your own research. It is vital that you understand what is going on with your skin as well as the available remedies to treat it; never feel like you can’t ask questions and always make sure you use all resources available to you. You may feel out of control when it comes to the onset of your skin condition, but your skin treatment choices are always in your hands.