The findings come from over 60,000 records from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, which accounted for nearly 1.5 billion dermatology visits in the United States.
The 10 most common reasons for visiting a dermatologist account for more than half of all visits, say findings from a new study exploring patterns of dermatologist visits.
The findings, published in Dermatology and Therapy, come from over 60,000 records from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, which accounted for nearly 1.5 billion dermatology visits in the country. Throughout the study period—2007 through 2018—skin examinations (7.8%), skin lesion (7.5%), and discoloration or abnormal pigmentation (7.3%) accounted for the most dermatology visits.
“Skin conditions affect 1.9 billion people globally. While we understand the most common diagnoses made at a dermatology visit, the reasons why patients visit the dermatologist have not been evaluated,” explained the researchers.
Reasons for visiting a dermatologist varied by age group, showed the findings. For patients 18 years or younger, visits were largely driven by acne (28%), followed by warts (7.7%) and skin rash (6.4%), with 61% of these patients feeling they already knew their diagnosis before the visit.
Meanwhile, adult patients often visited the dermatologist unsure of their diagnosis. The most common reasons for patients aged 19 to 65 years were skin examinations (7.7%), discoloration/abnormal pigmentation (7.1%), and acne (6.7%). For patients 66 years or older, skin lesions (10%), skin examinations (9.6%), and discoloration/abnormal pigmentation (8.3%) were the most common reasons for visits.
Other reasons for visiting the dermatologist included progress visits; cancer, skin, and subcutaneous tissue; symptoms of skin moles; other diseases of the skin; and cysts.
In addition to improving the understanding of patient needs, the findings, say the researchers, can help drive appropriate outreach tactics to improve access to care, as over 40% of the country lives in areas with a shortage of dermatologists.
“Health outreach programs aimed at improving dermatologic access to underserved communities can be further targeted to address common reasons patients visit the dermatologist,” detailed the researchers. “For example, the American Academy of Dermatology’s (AAD) Good Skin Knowledge program, aimed at educating underserved children on skin conditions common to their age group, should highlight topics such as acne, warts, and skin rashes and when to seek dermatologic care for these conditions. Health outreach programs such as Good Skin Knowledge could additionally aim to teach patients how to self-treat for common conditions, such as acne (over-the-counter acne treatments) or warts (over-the-counter wart remover kits).”
Similarly, noted the researchers, AAD offers free educational resources for patients that could offer information beyond skin cancer screening.
Peck G, Roberson F, Feldman S. Why do patients in the United States seek care from dermatologists? Dermatol Ther. Published online March 14, 2022. doi:10.1007/s13555-022-00706-0