Ask the Advocates: Tips for Sending Photos to Your Doctor
Sometimes the easiest way to communicate with the dermatologist is to email them. And this may involve sending pictures of suspicious spots or moles!
Advice for sending your dermatologist a photo
Here are tips and tricks from a few of our SkinCancer.net advocates:
Devin: Try for a clear photo with written details
"I always encourage my friends and family to send pictures to their doctor whenever they have concerns, as I have done many times in the past. When doing so, just be as clear and thorough as possible to make sure your doctor can correctly diagnose the issue. This means taking a clear picture with a flash and providing any additional information that could help them understand the photo or your concerns.
"Oftentimes it will be something the doctor sees every day and they can quickly reply back and tell you it’s nothing to be concerned about, saving you a trip to the doctor’s office. If it happens to be a potential health issue, the doctor would likely request that you come into his/her office for a full examination. Either way, by sending a photo you can make sure the issue is addressed as quickly as possible and possibly save you a trip to the doctor’s office."
Judy: Remember, it is healthcare communication
"Prior to this year, I had never before sent photos to my doctor. After a Mohs surgery this summer (during the pandemic), the surgeon said that he wanted me to text him photos of the surgical area instead of coming back in for him to look at it unless I felt like I’d rather have him see it in person. Given that my surgeon’s office was located in a hospital and I had to walk through a lobby area that was full of people when I arrived, I opted to send photos. He had me send photos at 1 week, 2 weeks, 4 weeks, and 8 weeks post-surgery.
"The main tip I have is to remember that these aren’t ‘glamour’ shots. They aren’t selfies that you are going to post to social media. It’s more important to get a close-up of the area of concern than it is for you to make sure you look good in the photo. I have to admit, I cringed at the photos I sent my surgeon. They were taken at a horrible angle and were very close to my face. But, he needed a good view of the surgical area, at least as good as could be through a photo. Ask someone to take the photo for you, if you aren’t able to get a good, clear picture yourself."
Rachel: They are the second-best option
"Sending photos will NEVER be as accurate as showing the doctor in person. Please don’t get upset when someone tells you that they are unable to diagnose via photograph and they will need to see it in person. When you do take photos make sure to have good lighting. Try taking the photo with the flash off and then again with the flash on. And please, if you wear glasses, please put your glasses on and make sure the photo is not blurry (this is a common problem in our office). Photos are also great as a reminder to yourself to make sure you have the doctor look at every concerning spot."
Liz: Do not be afraid to try it
"A few months back, during the spring surge of COVID-19, I found a spot on the top of my right hand. I began using Efudex on my own. As the area responded in red painful irritation, I decided it was time to check with my dermatologist. Having never used a 'telehealth' network, she was sympathetic and talked me through it. Holding my hand close to my cell phone screen, she was able to make her recommendations as if we were physically in her office. After that, I was sold on virtual visits whenever plausible."
How often do you speak to your family members about skin cancer?