A photo of a person's scalp with a lesion surrounded by speech bubbles and question marks.

Do I Need Another Medical Opinion About My Skin?

I moved to Long Island just over a year ago from Buffalo, New York, to pursue some professional dreams and to be closer to my children. Along with unpacking, decorating and the sticker shock of living close to New York City, I had to find a dermatologist that I could trust.

I needed to find a new dermatologist

I had been very happy with my medical treatment in Buffalo overall and specifically with my dermatologist. He was very thorough, yet not alarming, in his approach. It really didn’t matter anymore. Western New York was behind me and I had to find a new doctor.

I have a spot on my scalp

I have had a few appointments with my new dermatologist on Long Island and have been fairly satisfied. Yet, I feel there is something more to be done. You see, I have this itchy, flaky spot on my scalp, under my hair, and above my ear. It gets irritated when I put on a baseball cap. It is impossible for me to see since I lack eyes on the back of my head, so I have relied on others to take photos for me.

A difference in opinion

Months ago I had alerted my current doctor about this spot when it wasn't itchy. He examined it and thought it to be seborrheic keratosis. Seborrheic keratoses, which appear brown on my skin are waxy and scaly, non-cancerous skin growths. Many people develop these as they age. I have had these growths in other parts of my body, but this seems different to me. It hurts at times and feels like it’s growing.

I'm concerned about this spot

My biggest concern is that this is actually actinic keratosis. Actinic keratoses are precancerous lesions. They can be scaly, rough, dry, and painful and can appear from light brown to pink. I am not surprised that I could have actinic keratosis. Nothing would surprise me about my skin at this point. So, why am I writing about this?

I need to have a plan

I am writing about this because I need to have a plan. My appointment is in two days and I am going to press my doctor about this skin growth. I am going to suggest that it may not be seborrheic keratosis and it is actually actinic keratosis instead. I would like him to treat it or test it in some way to find out for sure. He knows that I am a fairly educated patient when it comes to skin cancer and I am interested to see how he responds.

Contemplating a second opinion

If he does not treat or test it, then I feel like I need to get another opinion. I need to find someone who understands my need to know; my need to be tested and treated. I am not comfortable with letting this thing go for any reason and I feel better about having a second opinion. I always tell others to be their best advocates and it’s time for me to take the same approach with myself.

How I decide if I need a second opinion

Here is the question to ask yourself when considering getting a second opinion: "Am I satisfied with the first opinion?" If not, get a second one. It’s that simple for me. I realize that finding a second dermatologist may be a challenge for many. Sometimes a second opinion can be with the same doctor if your condition changes in some way. This is why it is so important to monitor your own skin, note changes, and see your dermatologist based on those changes. In other words, take charge of your prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Stay tuned...

How do you decide when it's time to get a second opinion?

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