For Patients and Community
Keep seeing your dermatologist during COVID-19
In response to the COVID-19 situation, dermatologists have adapted their practices to provide a safe environment for patients. Many are providing care via telehealth, using phone and videoconferencing. Most dermatology practices remain open, continuing to provide quality specialist dermatology care, whilst implementing strict infection control measures to ensure that the risks of coming into contact with the virus are extremely low.
Here you will find further information on COVID-19 for people with skin conditions and receiving dermatology care.
Where to find information
Visit Healthdirect website for community-friendly information on symptoms and guidance on when and where to seek medical advice.
Call Healthdirect’s National Coronavirus Helpline (1800 020 080) or check your symptoms at the Healthdirect Symptom Checker online self-guided tool
NPS MedicineWise’s Being medicinewise during coronavirus provides information on using your regular medicines during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
For information in languages other than English:
Am I at risk?
In Australia, the people most at risk of getting the virus are those who have:
- recently been in a high risk country or region – see health.gov.au for the latest advice
- been in close contact with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19.
Some people are at greater risk of more serious illness with COVID-19. The Department of Health has advice for people most at risk, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, older people and people in aged care facilities.
To help protect people most at risk, the Government has put in place social distancing measures and are encouraging good hygiene such as regular handwashing. See www.health.gov.au.
Ultraviolet radiation (UV) devices used at home are not recommended for personal or home sterilisation. The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) has issued a product warning about the dangers of UVC lamps and COVID 19. See factsheet.
What does COVID-19 mean for people with skin conditions?Some chronic health conditions can increase the risk of serious illness from COVID-19. Patients on immunosuppressants or biologics may be at higher risk. The College has developed information to help you:
- Information for patients receiving immunosuppressants
- Information for patients receiving biologics
- Information for people with eczema
The following information has been developed for people receiving immunosuppressive or biologic treatment:
- Skin Health Institute factsheet: COVID-19 vaccine information for people on an immunosuppressive or biological treatment (March 2021)
- Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI): COVID-19 vaccination decision guide for people with immunocompromise (March 2021)
Please note. On 8 April 2021, the Australian Government’s Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommended changes to Australia’s COVID-19 Vaccine Program in light of the evolving evidence of an extremely rare but serious side effect involving unusual blood clots following receipt of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Visit the Department of Health’s COVID-19 vaccines website for the latest information.
Avoiding skin problems when wearing a mask
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increased use of face masks. Prolonged use of masks and goggles can cause adverse skin reactions such as acne, contact dermatitis and pressure effects as well as exacerbating any underlying skin conditions. Here are some tips to avoid skin problems:
I am a dermatology patient – how will Covid-19 affect my ongoing care?
The COVID-19 pandemic is an evolving situation, and like everyone, dermatologists are having to adapt their models of care rapidly in an effort to minimise the risks of infection to their patients and staff.
Why has my appointment been delayed?
To minimise community spread, dermatologists in some locations have been advised to postpone any non-urgent consultations to minimise the number of people coming through their consulting and waiting rooms.
Some dermatologists may have chosen to close their clinic, particularly those identified at high risk of a serious infection should they contract COVID-19 or in quarantine themselves.
Where feasible and clinically appropriate, your dermatologist may offer to conduct consultations by video or phone. In some cases, it may not be possible to offer this service.
I’ve been offered a video or phone consultation. How does it work and how do I get the most out of it?
As part of the health system response to the COVID-19 outbreak, you may be offered a consultation with your dermatologist or clinical nurse by phone or video – known as telehealth – instead of face to face. This is an important step to protecting your health and that of your health care team while enabling you to continue to receive medical care and advice from the comfort and safety of your own home.
For more information on what to expect see:
- Your dermatology telehealth appointment: A five step guide
- Dermatology and telehealth – information for patients
- University of Queensland Centre for Online Health Quick Guides (one pagers) for consumers to help you decide if telehealth is right for you and how to prepare for a video consultation.
- Department of Health factsheet | Helping you get your medicine if you are confined to home.
Why haven’t I been offered the option of a video or phone consultation?
It is important to note that telehealth may not be appropriate for the management of all dermatological conditions and a face-to-face consultation may still be needed. Your dermatologist will discuss this with you and whether a face-to-face consultation needs to take place or can be postponed to a later date.
I’ve been advised I need a face-to-face consultation? Is it safe for me to attend?
Dermatologists have adapted quickly and sensibly to the challenges that COVID-19 has created and are doing everything they can to ensure the chances of coming into contact with coronavirus are extremely low.
If patients do need an in-person visit, strict infection control measures have been deployed including limiting the number of people in the waiting and consultation rooms, spacing chairs 1.5 metres apart or encouraging patients to wait in their cars.
Already rigorous hygiene practices have been intensified. Patients with potential COVID-19 symptoms are being directed to not to attend practices but to phone instead.
If you do need to attend for a face-to-face consultation, your clinic or practice will advise what you will need to do and what precautions they are putting in place to minimise any risk of infection. If you have concerns, please discuss these with your clinic or practice. It is important that you continue to receive a timely and accurate diagnosis and ongoing management for your skin cancer or skin condition.
I have a concerning spot or lesion on my skin. What should I do?
We know that social distancing restrictions currently in place have led many people to consider cancelling or postponing their regular skin check. Melanoma alone kills 1,700 Australians per year with 14,000 diagnosed. Early diagnosis and treatment is critical and it is extremely important that we do not let COVID-19 provide an opportunity for melanoma to take yet more lives.
If you have a concerning spot or lesion on your skin, make an appointment with your GP who may refer you to a dermatologist. If you have a regular follow up appointment booked with your dermatologist, please contact their practice or clinic to see if this can be carried out using a telephone or video consultation, or if you need to see your dermatologist for a face-to-face consultation.
Federal Government Links
Department of Health | COVID-19 Health Alert – daily update
MBS Online | COVID-19 Teleheath
Therapeutic Goods Administration | COVID-19: Information on medicines and medical devices
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme | Restriction requirement exemptions for some medicines during COVID 19