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What to Expect When using Virtual Care to See a Dermatologist

June 12, 2024 • read

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What to Expect When using Virtual Care to See a Dermatologist

Access to specialized healthcare can be challenging, and dermatology is no exception. Dermatology plays a key role in diagnosing and treating skin conditions, yet many people find it difficult to see a dermatologist promptly.

Maple allows you to connect with specialists like dermatologists through virtual care, so you can chat with a dermatologist over your phone, tablet, or desktop in days, not months. No referrals needed.


You may be wondering what to expect from a virtual dermatology visit and how to get the quality care you need.   
In this blog, we outline the role of dermatologists and what to expect from a virtual visit.  

Introduction to virtual dermatology visits 

A dermatologist is an expert in the care of healthy skin and the prevention and treatment of skin diseases and cancers. After medical school, dermatologists receive an additional five years of training to become certified. They specialize in the prevention, recognition, and treatment of diseases affecting the skin, hair, nails, and mucous membranes (like inside your mouth). 

Some dermatologists will see and treat an array of conditions, whereas others may further subspecialize in areas like: 

  • Cosmetic dermatology using Botox, dermal fillers, performing laser surgery, liposuction, and even facelifts.  
  • Dermatopathology specializes in the pathology of the skin.
  • Immunodermatology focuses on immune-mediated skin disorders and diseases like lupus
  • Mohs surgery, a specialized technique for removing deep skin cancer margins while sparing tissue 
  • Pediatric dermatology, if they completed both pediatrics and dermatology residency or fellowship programs after medical school 

The Canadian Dermatology Association estimates that 20% of Canadians have acne, one million were diagnosed with psoriasis, and three million live with rosacea.

Other common reasons that may bring you to a dermatologist include:

  • Skin cancers like squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, melanoma, and precancerous lesions called actinic keratosis
  • Eczema, dermatitis, dry skin and urticaria 
  • Sweating too much (hyperhidrosis) 
  • Loss of skin pigment (vitiligo) 
  • Hair conditions like hair loss (alopecia), dandruff, or inflammation of the hair follicles (folliculitis) 
  • Brittle or discoloured nails, nail fungal infections, or cancers presenting under the nail (subungual melanoma)

Virtual care from Maple connects patients like you with specialists like dermatologists to help diagnose and manage these complex medical conditions, skin care specialists, or specialists to monitor your moles with mole mapping

Preparing for your virtual dermatology appointment 

To set yourself up for a seamless virtual visit and connection, you may want to ensure you have a few things in place: 

  • You are connected to a strong internet connection 
  • While Maple supports text, you may be asked to go on video with a provider. You should ensure you’re using a device with a webcam and microphone such as a smartphone, computer, or tablet 
  • If using a mobile device, download the Maple app in the Apple or Google Play store.

In regards to preparing for the reason for your visit, you may want to gather information like: 

  • Notes or photos documenting your presenting symptoms 
  • Any recent investigations like recent blood test results or biopsies
  • A list of all of your medications and supplements you take, as well as past treatments for this condition
  • Any questions you may have for your provider 

Understanding the process of virtual dermatology 

With Maple, connecting with a dermatologist or other medical professional like a family physician, dietitian, or other specialists is as easy as: 

  1. Signing into your Maple account on an iOS or Android device or through desktop.
  2. Clicking on “Get care” to start the process. 
  3. Selecting dermatology as the provider you wish to connect with. 
  4. Explain your symptoms or health-related concerns you are experiencing. This is the information-gathering step. Based on what you provide, you may be asked more questions (about past medical history, family history, medications, dietary and lifestyle habits) to better prepare the healthcare provider for the appointment. 
  5. Submit your photos. See tips on how to take quality photos for teledermatology below.
  6. You may need to verify your identity before entering the virtual waiting room. You will be provided with an expected wait time.
  7. Begin connecting with your healthcare provider via text. You or the healthcare provider may request a video or audio call. 
  8. Your provider will enter any relevant diagnoses, investigations, or prescriptions into the chat. 
  9. If you receive a prescription you will have the option to have it sent to a pharmacy near you for you to pick up or have it delivered straight to your home.

Tips for taking effective teledermatology photos 

The photos you send the dermatologist must be clear and in focus. Consider these tips for taking your photos

  • Use good lighting and avoid the need for flash photography.  Natural light outside or by a window is best. 
  • Reduce distractions from busy backgrounds.
  • Get close. A close-up photo can show details.
  • Take pictures from afar.  A photo taken further away can show scale and location. 
  • Consider using a ruler or coin next to your close-up photo to give the dermatologist something to reference for size comparison 

What to expect during your online visit

  1. Input your location and choose your provider.
  2. Pay for your visit (or membership, depending on province). 
  3. Explain your symptoms or health-related concerns. This is the information-gathering step. Based on what you provide, you may be asked more questions (about past medical history, family history, medications, dietary and lifestyle habits) to better prepare the healthcare provider for the appointment. 
  4. You may need to verify your identity before entering the virtual waiting room. You will be provided with an expected wait time.
  5. Begin connecting with your healthcare provider via text. You or the healthcare provider may request a video or audio call. 
  6. Your provider will enter any relevant diagnoses, investigations, or prescriptions into the chat. 
  7. If you receive a prescription, you can have it sent to a pharmacy near you for you to pick up or have it delivered straight to your home.

Considerations when using virtual dermatology 

Virtual dermatology has increased access to dermatologists for many conditions. It’s also become a tool to assist in triaging conditions that warrant an in-person consultation or further diagnostic tests.

Conditions commonly treated using virtual dermatology can include: 

  • Acne
  • Eczema
  • Different types of dermatitis like atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, dermatitis herpetiformis, and nummular dermatitis
  • Nail infections
  • Psoriasis
  • Hives
  • Scabies
  • Lichen planus

There are, however, some limitations to what should be seen in-person, and when the dermatologist you see online may recommend an in-person visit for further assessment.

Conditions that may warrant an in-person dermatology visit may include: 

  • Concerning moles or pigmented areas. A dermatologist often evaluates these using a dermatoscope or removed for biopsy.
  • Concerns under or involving hair as these are difficult to capture even with quality photos and may require hair removal.
  • Mucosal areas like inside the mouth can be difficult to visualize. 
  • The need for a full body scan to assess widespread conditions.
  • Conditions requiring a procedure like injections or biopsies for example cannot be done online. Virtual dermatology in this case may help triage and expedite the referral process. 

Follow-up and next steps 

Similar to visiting with a specialist in person, towards the end of your appointment, you and your provider will discuss a plan. Your plan may include:

  • Tests for you to complete like bloodwork. 
  • Starting a skincare or treatment regimen that could include a new or changed prescription medication.
  • Any referrals to other specialists or healthcare providers such as dietitians, endocrinologists, and allergy and immunologists
  • Discussing when an appropriate follow-up appointment would be if it’s needed. 

Understanding what to expect with a virtual visit can help ease your mind and make you feel more prepared and in control. With Maple, Canada’s leading virtual care platform, you can book an appointment directly with a Canadian-licensed dermatologist, and receive a personalized treatment plan, and track your condition over time. 

The information presented here is for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the advice from your medical professional. Virtual care is not meant for medical emergencies. If you are experiencing an emergency, like chest pain or difficulties breathing, for example, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.

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