How Long Do You Have to Wait for a Dermatologist Appointment?
An average American dermatology appointment wait is 32.3 days. To see a family doctor, the wait time is 29.3 days on average. This means, if you have a standard HMO plan and suspect a cancerous mole on your skin, you will have to wait on average 61.6 days (2 months) to get it checked out.
While the average wait time for a dermatologist’s visit is 32 days nationwide, your actual wait time can vary widely depending on where you live. For example, the waiting time is 7 times longer in Philadelphia (longest on average) than in Miami (shortest on average).
Learn more about the wait time for a dermatologist where you live:
Average wait times for an appointment with a dermatologist
(By metropolitan area)
- Atlanta: 13 days
- Boston: 52 days
- Dallas: 22 days
- Denver: 51 days
- Detroit: 27 days
- Houston: 28 days
- Los Angeles: 35 days
- Miami: 11 days
- Minneapolis: 30 days
- New York: 15 days
- Philadelphia: 78 days
- Portland: 30 days
- San Diego: 30 days
- Seattle: 42 days
- Washington, DC: 20 days
Why Does It Take So Long to See a Dermatologist?
Cosmetic Dermatology versus Medical Concerns
Cosmetic dermatology has become more and more popular–think laser hair removal, Botox injections, dermabrasion, fillers, and chemical peels. Because of this growing trend, many dermatologists save up some, if not all, of their slots for these procedures. Not only are these sessions more profitable, they are not medically necessary procedures. To the dermatology practices, this means the cosmetic patients pay upfront and no insurance paperwork is necessary.
Michael Gold M.D. sums up his argument for this trend in this short excerpt:
In today’s world, when you combine medical and cosmetic dermatology, where one is a cash-paying business and one is a wait-to-be-reimbursed business, many of us who do this have time slots available for our cosmetics patients that make it quicker to get into the clinic than new medical patients who have had a rash for 6 months and 14 doctors who have seen them before.
If you call my office and say “I have been diagnosed with a malignant melanoma,” you’re in my office tomorrow, no matter what — as long as it can be verified with a pathology report. But if you call with a 10-year-old mole that ‘may be changing,’ we’ll get you in as soon as we can. And if you call with a skin tag that’s bothering you, you’ll wait until we have an opening.
Shortage of Dermatologists
While many believe that the increase in cosmetic dermatology takes dermatologists’ time away from medical patients, some believe that the answer to longer wait times is simpler.
Associate Professor of Dermatology at the Harvard Medical School, Alexa B. Kimball, M.D., M.P.H. notes, “[There is a] tremendous demand for services and limit in supply of dermatologists available.”
The doctor’s observation can be confirmed by the following data. As of 2015, there were 13,847 dermatologists practicing across the US. Here’s the breakdown by region:
- North: 2,579
- East: 3,538
- South: 4,433
- West (including Alaska and Hawaii): 3,297
Do You Actually Need an In-Person Dermatologist Visit?
Unless you suspect a cancerous mole or need prescription-strength acne medication, the answer is probably NO.
Over 70% of skin conditions can be treated with over-the-counter medication. Most people go into the dermatologist’s office because they have itchy red bumps. And one common cause of these itchy red bumps is allergy-related hives.
Normally, you’d have to wait 29 days to see a family doctor to get a referral to a dermatologist, wait another 32 days to actually get a diagnosis from the dermatologist, and then wait another 29 days to a get a blood test at your primary clinic. Sounds pretty complicated, huh?
Great hack to speed up your treatment process: An online dermatologist can easily identify allergy-related rashes from images of the affected area. Instead of waiting for an appointment with a dermatologist, bring the teledermatology evaluation to your family doctor. Ask for a blood allergy test. The blood allergy test can look at your sensitivity to hundreds of different allergens and give you a full picture of your allergies. After you remove the allergen from your daily routine, the hives rarely last more than a day. And now, you’ve cut your waiting time to one-third.
Obviously, not all skin problems are hives. To give you a better idea, here are some common skin conditions we’ve got from helping over 20,000 users.
15 Most Common Skin Diseases (submitted to First Derm)
- Insect Bite
- Urticaria (Hives)
- Basal Cell Carcinoma
- Herpes Simplex Virus
- Nummular Eczema
- Herpes Zoster (Shingles)
- 2017 Survey of Physician Appointment Wait Times: And Medicare and Medicaid Acceptance Rates
- Market Profile of U.S. Dermatologists: OneKey Market Insight Report
- Patient Wait Times: Bumped by Botox?
- Itchy Red Bumps on Skin – Potential Causes
Ask a Dermatologist
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Specialist doctor from the University Hospital in Gothenburg, alumnus UC Berkeley. My doctoral dissertation is about Digital Health and I have published 5 scientific articles in teledermatology and artificial intelligence.