Dermatologists are doctors who have undertaken specialized training and excel in the treatment of conditions related to the skin, the body’s largest organ. They also are capable of treating hair and nail problems.
Many common skins, hair, and nail complaints can be treated by over-the-counter medication or by a visit to your family doctor or general practitioner. However, if your own attempts are not providing relief or if your family doctor is stumped by your condition, it might be wise to consult with a specialist.
Why See a Dermatologist?
Dermatologists excel in diagnosing, assessing, and treating the following conditions:
- Rosacea and adult acne
- Moles, skin tags
- Skin cancers
- Acne in teenagers and children
- Pattern hair loss in men and people taking testosterone
- Diffuse hair loss, hair thinning, and alopecia
- Jock itch, athlete’s foot, ringworm, and other fungal infections
- Problems with nails, including toenails
- Allergic dermatitis and skin reactions to environmental triggers
- Severe reactions to bug bites, parasites, or mites
- Cosmetic skin problems that affect quality-of-life
If you believe you may have any of the above conditions, ask your general practitioner for a referral to see an online dermatologist.
Can You See a Dermatologist Without a Referral?
In Canada, you can see a dermatologist without a referral. But this is only done at a cost to the patient. If you want to benefit from your province’s health care system, you will need to be referred to a dermatologist by a general practitioner.
How Do I Obtain a Referral to See a Dermatologist?
The answer to this question depends on a lot of variables, including your age, your health history, your family history, and how your complaint presents. For example, getting referred to a dermatologist for a mole may be out of an abundance of caution due to your history of sun exposure. However, if the mole looks cancerous, you may be provided an urgent dermatology referral, or even instructed to go to your local emergency department.
Your general practitioner can assess your skin, hair, or nail complaint and see whether it merits a written referral to see a dermatologist.
Sometimes your general practitioner will provide you with the referral directly. If you made the appointment online (such as with WalkInVirtualClinics secure online service), you will need to print it and contact a dermatology clinic near you that is accepting new patients and provide them with the written referral when you arrive at your first appointment, along with your provincial health card and any other information they may need.
In some cases, your general practitioner or family doctor may have a dermatologist in mind they know and trust and could fax the referral directly to them. Ask your general practitioner if they want to provide you with a referral to see a specific dermatologist, and be sure to write down any other instructions they may provide you.