As if having acne wasn’t frustrating enough, the process for finding a dermatologist to treat it is a hellscape all its own.
Many dermatologists get booked up months in advance, meaning if you’re going through some serious skin problems now, you won’t be able to see a dermatologist in person for at least 3-4 months down the road. And, actually, many dermatology offices I’ve called in the past have been booked 6 months or more into the future.
This has been true whether I’ve lived in the middle of nowhere or in the middle of suburbia. If dermatologists are in such hot demand, why aren’t there more of them??
If you’re finding it impossible to see a dermatologist in your area, this post is for you.
The Best Online Dermatologist Websites
This dermatology website is getting mentioned first in my list because I have the most experience using them.
This isn’t a sponsored post nor have any of these websites asked me to include them in this list, but I do want to clarify that I’m a little biased towards these guys because I’ve used them several times in the past and have had great experiences each time.
I’ve only used them for acne-related skin issues, but each time I had “visits” with very professional dermatologists who prescribed me generally acceptable forms of acne treatment. For example, Trentinoin (which I still use), antibiotics or antibiotic face washes.
Before you start your appointment, you’ll be asked to submit your health insurance information. Prescriptions can then be sent to your local pharmacy and are easily adjusted if you need to tweak them.
The site also allows you to message your dermatologist directly, so it’s pretty easy to ask them questions and get answers in a timely manner. You have 30 days to keep asking questions or let your doctor know about any side effects you might experience. After those 30 days, your appointment is considered over and, if you need additional treatment, you’ll have to start a new visit.
Cost: You pay $59 or less for a visit. From my experiences with using the site, I can back that up.
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From what I’ve read about this online dermatologist website, it functions essentially the same way as DermatologistOnCall.
You fill out a profile detailing what skin problems you’re having, you get a dermatologist, and they send your prescription to your local pharmacy. With YoDerm, you also have the option to get your prescriptions mailed to you in 3-5 business days.
The one big difference between YoDerm and DermatologistOnCall is that YoDerm does not accept insurance. However, it’s priced about the same as DermatologistOnCall, except that you’ll always pay $59 whereas, with DermatologistOnCall, you could pay less.
Cost: $59 flat rate
This dermatology website follows suit with the previous two I’ve mentioned here.
You fill out information about your acne (or whatever other skin condition you’re hoping to treat) and a dermatologist will prescribe treatment and/or medications for you. As with YoDerm and DermatologistOnCall, SkyMD will send your prescription directly to your pharmacy.
Cost: Variable. SkyMD says that the cost of each visit “will vary depending on the dermatologist you select, but it is usually comparable to a typical office visit copay.”
As with the previously mentioned dermatology websites, DirectDerm allows you to submit photographs of your skin, fill out information describing the dermatology issues you’re dealing with, and get treatments and prescriptions from a licensed dermatologist.
Like the other sites here, all prescriptions can be sent right to your pharmacy.
Cost: Variable. DirectDerm accepts most popular insurance providers, which will allow you to get treated for the price of a copay. Alternatively, if your insurance isn’t accepted, you can still use the service for a “discounted rate” of $95.
How to Use Online Dermatology Websites
In my professional acne-having experience, it’s best to use online dermatologists as a short-term treatment plan for a long-term problem.
Basically, if you can’t get in to see a dermatologist in your local area for several months, take whatever next appointment date you can get, and then supplement that treatment with an online dermatologist while you wait for your appointment date to arrive.
There are a few reasons this works well:
1. You can ensure that you’ll eventually get to talk to a professional in person.
While online medical services can be helpful, there’s nothing quite like being able to talk and interact with someone in person. When a dermatologist meets with you in person, she’ll be able to see and feel your skin and more accurately treat your acne.
2. You can get professional advice from your online dermatologist immediately.
This immediate attention will hopefully alleviate some of your acne before you even go to see your local dermatologist.
Either way, when you do go to your local office, this should give you some helpful information to tell the doctor there. (For example, what medications you’ve already tried, how they worked, if you had any adverse reactions to them, etc.)
3. You can get acne medication prescriptions immediately.
One of the most difficult parts about treating acne is knowing you need prescription-strength help, but can’t get access to prescription medication. Thanks to online dermatologists, you can get all the same acne prescriptions online that you would also get through your local dermatologist.
Your online dermatologist can send your prescriptions straight to your local pharmacy where you can pick them up. The internet is a beautiful thing!
4. You can cancel a dermatology appointment at any time.
If the treatments prescribed to you by your online dermatologist are working well, you can always cancel your in-person appointment with your local dermatologist. However, please note that I STRONGLY encourage you NOT to do this.
It’s so hard to see a dermatologist in person, you might as well take the appointment when it comes around. It’s also always better to get an opinion from a medical professional in person rather than through a website, no matter how helpful or professional that website may be.
Regardless, if you’re worried about having two dermatologists, you can always stop using one and work primarily with the other.
How Legit are Online Dermatologists?
In my experience, pretty damn.
As I mentioned, with DermatologistOnCall, you submit your health insurance information in order for you to start a virtual “appointment” with a medical professional. This is what gives you access to prescription acne medications that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to get without going to see a doctor.
Additionally, many of the dermatologists on these websites have some kind of profile on the site. Their profiles usually tell you what their area of expertise is (dermatology is about way more than just acne), how many years of professional experience they have, where they went to college, etc.
With the information provided on the site, you can usually select the specific dermatologist you want to treat you. And, if that isn’t enough for you, you can also Google the doctors’ names just to make sure the person is who they say they are.
Granted, the internet is a big place and some people are bound to have had bad experiences with online dermatology sites, but I personally never had anything less than a good experience with my online dermatologists.
In one case, my online dermatologist wrote a prescription for me for a brand name medication, which was going to cost me several hundred dollars to fill on my insurance plan. I left him a message asking to switch the prescription to the generic version of the medication, and he did so within a few hours. All in all, I was able to get my acne medication from my local pharmacy in less than 48 hours after starting my online appointment.
In one other instance, I got a bill for several hundred dollars from the medical office of my online dermatologist. I called the number on the bill and explained that I had seen the doctor virtually, and the receptionist was like, “Oh, we just changed billing providers and they keep messing this up. You don’t owe any money.”
Soooo, yeah. All in all, my experiences with online dermatologist have been incredibly positive.
I don’t think it ever hurts to take safety precautions and be mindful of who you’re sharing information with, but I would say that the online dermatology community seems very professional.
Other Places to Get Acne Prescriptions
While online dermatologists are great, I think it’s also worth pointing out that you may have some other options available that you might not be aware of. For example…
1. Local Skincare Clinics
Skincare clinics are not always advertised the same as dermatology offices. They tend to offer fewer dermatology services, but acne treatment is almost always one of them.
Dermatology offices, on the other hand, can treat pretty much any kind of skin condition, which could very well include cancer and other serious skin issues. This is part of the reason why dermatology appointments have such long waiting times.
However, if you go to a skincare clinic, you may be able to get an appointment without waiting half a year.
In my case, my family doctor’s office opened a skincare clinic after I was already a patient there. Because I was already a patient at the office, I was able to get an appointment with the skincare clinic in just a week or two.
If you’ve only been Googling for dermatology offices in your area, see what searches for local skincare clinics turn up.
2. CVS’s MinuteClinic
If you aren’t familiar with the MinuteClinic, it’s essentially a CVS-owned walk-in clinic where you can get treated for a variety of non-emergency health problems. And guess what… Acne is one of them!
However, not all CVS locations have a MinuteClinic, so be sure to check that your local CVS has one before you rush over there.
3. Walgreens Clinics
Similar to MinuteClinc, Walgreens also offers on-location clinics where you can be diagnosed and treated for a variety of non-urgent health conditions. This includes acne!
However, not all Walgreens have Clinics. You’ll be asked to verify your location before you schedule an appointment to make sure that your local Walgreens offers this service.
If you’ve been having problems with acne and haven’t seen a dermatologist about it yet, please do! While there are tons of over-the-counter acne treatments available, it’s definitely worth seeing a professional if you haven’t found a solution to your acne yet.
Dermatologists, online or in person, are so much more knowledgeable about skincare and acne than random people on the internet (including me!). Getting a professional opinion on your acne and a treatment plan for your skin is the best thing you can do to start working your way towards an acne-free life.
If you want to read more about how I cleared up my skin with the help of a dermatologist, click here.