Awkward Questions You Actually Should Ask Your Dermatologist

Intimidated by your doctor? You shouldn’t be. You’re putting your care in the hands of an expert and have a right to know more about them. Keep it light and friendly (an aggressive interrogation never set the stage for a pleasant relationship) but do ask questions! Here are some suggestions.

🎓 “I’d love to learn more about your training, experience, and specialty!”

Asking about qualifications isn’t rude; it’s expected.

⚕️ “How do you stay up to date? What are you excited about that’s new?”

Doctors are curious and the best of them love learning about the newest discoveries! Most are committed to attending the biggest conferences and reading the top journals in their field. Asking what they’re excited about that’s new is a great way to get a feel for how curious your doctor is and how much work they put into staying up to date.

📚 “Do you do research? Do you publish or teach?”

A doctor that doesn’t isn’t “bad” by any means. But one who does is a cut above — they’re contributors to the field itself.

If you find this question too judge-y for you, you can look up their information online. Unlike going for a “Google M.D.” or trusting videos from sources with dubious credentials, this internet sleuthing is constructive. Enter your doctor’s name in a search. Pay special attention their profiles in websites or articles from reputable hospitals, medical conventions, peer-reviewed journals, or news sources. Their training, publications, and teaching, leadership positions, or other notable accomplishments are standard inclusions in online profiles.

😇 “If I wanted a second opinion, could you recommend someone?”

Talk about awkward! But that’s the point: awkward is what you should talk to your doctor about.

No ethical doctor would be offended by you seeking a second opinion and some will even refer you to specialists whom they trust or look up to.

On the other hand, a doctor you’re referred to for a second opinion won’t badmouth the referring doctor. You know you’re in good hands when both doctors are thoughtful and respectful — you feel safer knowing that their attention is on you and not their egos.

⚖️ “Are there other options?”

Your dermatologist will recommend what they judge to be the best option for your concern. These recommendations are based on their experience, their continued education, and the particularities of your skin and medical history. But many doctors also have a set of protocols that they tend to prefer because they work so well for the majority of their patients. If you’re not comfortable with the recommendation or are simply curious about other possibilities, ask about options.

Key here: quoting a random blogger can be a little frustrating for a professional, and understandably so. If you were in the construction business, how would you feel about someone questioning your authority because of “someone they saw in a video who did it differently?” Still, most doctors will research an option that you’re curious about, especially if you learned of it from a reliable source such as another doctor, a legitimate news site, or a peer-reviewed study that you heard about.

There’s a bit of a balancing act here:

YES: it is recommended that you ask your doctor about options, particularly if you learned about them from reliable sources. If you didn’t, that’s ok, too! But I’d suggest respecting the judgement of an expert with years of experience and training.

NO: it is not recommended to jump from doctor to doctor, willy nilly, until you find the sole one who will agree with an approach that most experts find scientifically dubious.

🤷 “I’m confused…could you clarify that for me?” and “If I have more questions, whom can I contact?”

It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions. If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification. Your physician will appreciate how mindful you’re being.

It’s also a good idea to ask where to get additional help if a question occurs to you later on.


Laura is our “dew”-good CEO at VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister CC and husband Juan Pablo (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about health, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness, and spreading goodness (like a VMV cream!)


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