online dermatologist visit

What to Expect During Your Online Dermatologist Visit at BHSkin Dermatology

Updated on November 28, 2022, by Don Mehrabi

Too busy to have that pesky nail problem checked? Or perhaps you simply want your acne prescription refilled without waiting in long queues at a dermatology clinic?

No worries! Thanks to modern technology, it’s now easy for everyone to get a real specialist’s help for any skin concern. Get access to an online dermatologist’s services anywhere at your convenient time. There’s no need to disrupt your routine or break the bank. And if you’re seeing one of BHSkin Dermatology’s board-certified dermatologists, you know you’re working with LA’s best.


So read on and learn how online dermatology works and what you can expect during your virtual consultation with a BHSkin Dermatology specialist.

What Is Online Dermatology?

Online dermatology, also known as “teledermatology,” is the practice of dermatology at a distance with the aid of telecommunication technology. This revolutionary medical innovation allows dermatologists to gather and store health information remotely.

A visual specialty like dermatology is an excellent application of telemedicine. Many skin, hair and nail conditions can be easily identified at a glance and confirmed by taking a good history. Since not all places have practicing board-certified dermatologists, teledermatology makes skin health-related services accessible to more people.

What Online Dermatology Services Does BHSkin Dermatology Offer?

There are three forms of teledermatology services.

Live Interactive

A patient with vitiligo seeing her online dermatologist live
A patient with vitiligo seeing her online dermatologist live

Live interactive teledermatology is also called “synchronous teledermatology,” “live video visit” or “real-time teledermatology.” This technology allows you to talk to your doctor remotely in real-time. It’s just like a face-to-face consultation, except it happens online.

Through videoconferencing, your doctor will ask questions about your skin condition then perform a focused physical examination. You will be given a treatment plan and prescribed medications on the spot if your diagnosis is straightforward. Otherwise, the dermatologist will recommend further tests to determine the root cause of your symptoms.

The biggest advantage of live interactive teledermatology is the time it saves both the doctor and the patient. Your dermatologist can obtain immediate answers to critical questions while you are spared long travel and waiting periods. But you need to have high-speed internet to enjoy its benefits fully.


A phone camera equipped with a dermoscope
A phone camera equipped with a dermoscope

Store-and-forward teledermatology, aka “asynchronous teledermatology” or “photo consultation,” requires the patient or their referring physician to send the dermatologist still photos of the lesions electronically. Supplemental information like history and preliminary lab results may accompany the photos.

The dermatologist does not interact with the patient or referring physician in real-time in a store-and-forward setup. However, a diagnostic or treatment plan is generally available within 24-48 hours.

The potential downside of this technology is the slight delay it may cause in the diagnostic process. Any further questions the online dermatologist may have cannot be answered right away. Still, this kind of service provides great value to patients because a bona fide skin expert examines and treats their condition.

Other advantages of asynchronous teledermatology are its time flexibility and feasibility at slower internet speeds. It is also generally more affordable than live interactive consultation because of its simpler technical requirements.


Hybrid or mixed teledermatology addresses the shortcomings of the two other formats. The patient sends still photos online before their appointment. The dermatologist discusses them and examines the case further during the live talk. A workup or treatment plan is provided before the session ends.

In a purely synchronous interaction, there’s always a risk that video quality, and consequently the accuracy of the doctor’s physical examination, will be compromised. Hybrid teledermatology overcomes that challenge because of the added information still photos provide. This technology is generally more efficient than simple live or photo consultations.

BHSkin Dermatology offers all three formats to ensure flexibility and high-quality virtual care.

How Does an Online Dermatology Consultation Differ from a Face-to-Face One?

The most obvious differences between virtual and in-person visits are the following:

  • The distance between the patient and the doctor
  • The dependence on electronic communication
  • The manner by which patient information is generated and stored

Telemedicine makes dermatology consultations convenient and reliable but not 100% risk-free. For example, it is impractical to perform a full-body skin exam remotely, so patients who absolutely need one will still have to visit the dermatologist in person. Also, electronic transmission of personal health information has inherent privacy and security risks that only potentially pricey equipment can minimize.

When Is an Online Dermatologist Visit Better Than One Done in Person?

Telemedicine complements but cannot totally supplant face-to-face doctor visits. However, if circumstances keep you from making an in-person dermatologist appointment, consider an online consultation in the following situations:

  • If you have a new skin lesion in a confined area, especially if it’s easy to visualize
  • For the preliminary evaluation of a suspicious skin growth
  • To follow up on test results
  • To update your physician on the progress of your at-home treatment or aftercare if you’re recovering from an in-office procedure
  • To refill prescriptions
  • To consult about having a cosmetic dermatology procedure, e. g. for acne scars, male-pattern hair loss, facial wrinkles, etc.
  • If you suddenly develop a rash or flare-up of a chronic skin condition but do not have emergency symptoms like shortness of breath, dizziness, palpitations, etc.

In these situations, talking to a real specialist is more cost-effective and time-efficient than allowing the problem to get worse without appropriate treatment. Remember that delaying therapy often results in complications that can increase your healthcare bills.

When Is a Face-to-Face Dermatologist Visit Preferable Over a Virtual One?

Online dermatology has the following limitations:

  • It is not for unstable patients needing emergency treatment, e. g. deep skin infection in a person with diabetes, people with erythrodermic or generalized pustular psoriasis, etc.
  • It is not for patients who need a full-body skin check or those with lesions in sites where visibility is poor. Similarly, a physical exam cannot be done properly if the lesions are in a sensitive area and the patient is uncomfortable disrobing on-camera.
  • It is unsuitable if the skin problem cannot be examined visually, as in cases of excessive armpit sweating and deep skin lumps.
  • A definitive treatment plan cannot be given if further workup is necessary, e. g. a biopsy to rule out skin cancer. Then again, this can also happen during a face-to-face session. What your online dermatologist will do in such cases is schedule an in-person appointment for the diagnostic tests.

These conditions warrant a face-to-face consultation at a properly equipped medical facility to ensure accurate diagnosis and timely treatment.

What Skin Conditions Can Online Dermatology Treat?

Online dermatology has been around for nearly three decades and continues to evolve. So despite its minor drawbacks, it can still remedy a wide variety of skin issues reliably. It is particularly useful when the condition:

  • Is a common one with a classic presentation, e. g. the patient has the usual scaly lumps of HPV infection
  • Is a diagnosed acute or chronic case needing care continuity
  • Does not need confirmatory testing
  • Is not accompanied by emergency symptoms, which require blood tests at the minimum

Online dermatology has demonstrated great success in the remote management of atopic eczema, acne and psoriasis. Patients on skin cancer surveillance have also benefited immensely from this technology.

Skin Conditions Commonly Encountered and Managed Successfully by Online Dermatologists

Atopic Dermatitis
Atopic Dermatitis
Allergic Rash
Allergic Rash
Psoriasis and Other Immune-Driven Conditions with Classic Lesions
Psoriasis and Other Immune-Driven Conditions with Classic Lesions



Identification of Skin Cancer Patients
Identification of Skin Cancer Patients

How Do You Prepare for Your Virtual Consultation with Your BHSkin Dermatology Specialist?

Getting ready for your online dermatology consultation helps you ensure everything goes smoothly. Here, we consider two situations.

For Patients Who Prefer a Photo Consultation

First, you must create a BHSkin Dermatology online account. You will be asked for personal information and to input your account security settings. You must also provide details about your skin issue and past medical information.

Second, you will be asked to upload photos of your lesions. It is important to send your doctor the best images. See our guide below.

Third, wait for the online dermatologist’s assessment. Depending on the kind of skin condition you have, the doctor will recommend a workup or treatment plan. The wait can take up to 24 hours.

A Guide for Obtaining Clear Images for BHSkin Dermatology’s Online Consultations
Cleaning the Lesion Wash with soap and water, then pat dry.

Alternatively, wipe the lesion with an alcohol pad before the shoot.

Avoid makeup.

Equipment Use a digital camera or your mobile device’s built-in camera. Make sure that the images are clear.
Background Choose only solid colors.

Avoid distracting patterns.

Take off jewelry.

Lighting Use fluorescent light or daylight.

Avoid colored light, shadows and glares.

You may use flash, but not too close that it whites out the lesion or alters its color.

Scope Shoot at different distances:

Regional: Shot within 1-2 feet to locate the lesion. It would help to include an anatomic identifier like the neck or belly button to show its orientation.

Close-up: Shot within 4-6 inches to provide greater detail.

Ask for help in taking the pictures to get the best views.

Form and Positioning Take multiple images.

For close-up photos, the first one should have the lesion in the center, with the camera perpendicular to the skin. Others may be taken from different angles. Always ensure good lighting.

Resolution At least 0.8 megapixel (1024 x 768 pixels), but ideally 8 megapixel (3264 x 2448 pixels) or better
Scale Use your camera’s built-in scale or software that lets you provide measurements straight from your device.

You may use a manual scale, e. g. ruler or measuring tape, as a last resort. But they tend to be inaccurate and may create shadows or block the view.

For Patients with a Live Video Visit Appointment

First, make an appointment through our video visit appointment page. You may choose from our specialists’ available schedules or call our office to request a time not listed on the page.

Second, complete our patient information form online. You will need to provide general personal data, health insurance details, your medical history and information about your skin condition. You will also find our clinic’s video visit policies on the same page. Signing the consent forms allows us to process your appointment request.

Third, upload images of your lesions if you can, though they’re not required if you only want a simple live visit. See our guide above for obtaining clear photos for your online dermatology consultation.

Fourth, wait for your 12-digit televisit code, which our office will send you electronically.

Fifth, ensure you are equipped for your online dermatologist visit. See our guide below.

Sixth, click “Join Televisit” and input your 12-digit televisit code on the page that pops up next. Follow the instructions to begin your session.

A Guide to Prepare for BHSkin Dermatology’s Online Dermatologist Visits 
Physical Environment Ensure visual and audio privacy.

All persons in both the doctor and the patient’s rooms must be identified. Make sure they can all be seen and heard.

Sit comfortably, ready for professional interaction.

Minimize bright lights and background noise.

Equipment Use a computer, tablet or smartphone with a good camera.

Specs recommended by the American Telemedicine Association (most modern computers and handheld devices have them):

  • H.264 video compression standard or higher
  • H.323-compliant
  • H.261 video compression standard compatibility
  • G.711 audio compression standard or better
  • Live video resolution 4CIF (704 x 480) or higher
  • Content resolution XGA (1024 x 768) or higher

The internet speed must be at least 384 kbps.

Use the secure software recommended by the clinic.

Ensure that your antivirus software and other data security apps are updated.

Make sure that your video and audio feeds are working.

Lighting Use fluorescent light or daylight to illuminate the room.

Avoid colored lights.

Background Avoid distracting clothing, jewelry and colors.
Camera Positioning Your equipment must rest on a stable platform to avoid unnecessary movement.

Place the camera within 1-2 feet of the lesions when they are being examined. Follow your dermatologist’s instructions on the lighting, movement direction and speed, positioning, etc. Have a trusted companion assist you if necessary.

Focus The camera must be perpendicular to the lesion unless instructed otherwise.

Use the freeze-frame feature of your device if able.

Describing the Lesions Get ready to verbalize the lesion’s location, color, shape, size, etc.

Keep a ruler or measuring tape close by so you and the online dermatologist can measure the lesion’s size more accurately.

Special Considerations You may be asked to shave hairy areas for better visibility.

Hard-to-visualize sites will require an in-person visit or clear still photos for proper examination.

The above guidelines will let our doctors give you high-quality care online while protecting your privacy and data security.

What Can You Expect During Your Online Dermatology Consultation?

Again, that depends on the kind of service you signed up for.

For photo consultations, you simply have to wait for the dermatologist to complete their evaluation based on the information you provided. If they have enough to come up with a diagnosis, they will email their assessment, personalized treatment plan and  a prescription within 24 hours.

In atypical cases, the doctor may reach out to the patient for further questions before giving their opinion. They may recommend confirmatory tests or an in-person visit if necessary.

Meanwhile, live video visits are very similar to in-person consultations. The online dermatologist will start by reviewing the information you provided. They will then ask additional questions regarding your skin problem and medical history. Afterward, they will examine the lesions up close. If you submit any photos before your live visit, your dermatologist will include them in the discussion.

A full skin exam is difficult to do online and can make some patients uncomfortable. So if the dermatologist thinks it’s necessary, e. g. when the lesions are widespread, you may be advised to come in for a face-to-face consultation.

One of the advantages of a live interactive visit is that it allows the patient to ask the dermatologist about their personalized care plan, just like in an in-person consultation. You must take this opportunity to inquire about potential trigger factors, possible medication side effects, relapse prevention and other things that can help you take better care of your skin.

You may also ask about other treatment options to compare their pros and cons. Doing so helps you and your doctor figure out which one is best for you.

There are several possible outcomes after a live virtual dermatologist visit.

First, if the condition can be diagnosed and treated online, the doctor will give you their full assessment, a personalized treatment plan and a prescription before the session ends.

Second, if the condition warrants an in-person examination or a full-body skin check, you will be advised to book a face-to-face consultation.

Third, they may recommend further testing straight away if they think it will be more useful than an in-person physical examination.

Fourth, if you were referred by another physician, they will coordinate with the latter to continue your care.

You may call our office if you have further questions about your care plan, prescription or any other concern related to your skin condition.


What Happens After Your Online Dermatology Consultation?

That depends on the kind of skin problem you have.

If it’s a condition that can be treated online, you may start therapy as soon as you’ve filled your prescription. At the end of a specified interval, you are expected to book a follow-up appointment so your doctor can monitor your progress. For example, a round of antibacterial treatment typically lasts one week. So you must schedule your next visit not long after.

If your skin problem needs an in-person examination or confirmatory testing, you must arrange for a face-to-face visit within the next few days. If you need a biopsy, you must have one done as soon as possible. Skin cancer treatment must be started immediately if the histopath results show malignant growth.

If your skin issue turns out to be a lifelong one, like psoriasis or chronic eczema, your dermatologist will coordinate with your primary care physician for your continued care.

What Do Our Patients Say About Their Virtual Dermatology Experience at BHSkin Dermatology?

Our patients are nothing short of satisfied with the kind of service they receive from our online dermatologists. Check out their reviews:

Before I had my online visit with Dr. Mehrabi, I was also wondering about a lot. How valuable it would be and what could actually be done during the visit compared to an in-person visit, how or whether I need to prepare for it. My experience was that a LOT could actually be done online because dermatologic diagnosing is mostly about how the condition looks and what the patient says. The prescription and medicine can all be handled online. Even when the compounding pharmacy was in a different town than mine, they were quick to mail me via expedited UPS. One other thing was that it was important for me to come early to get my computer or phone ready for the visit. The telederm software has strict privacy built into it, so I had to approve a few things in the software, and I would’ve made the doctor wait had I come right on time. Finally, when the connection dropped, whether it was on my or the doctor’s side, he kept coming back until my appointment was truly complete. So just like during in-person visits, there was no strict end time for my visit until we were done. I consider Dr. Mehrabi the best dermatologist I’ve had, after having treatments from about five different ones when I had skin issues a lot while growing up.

Branko Kral


I want to thank BHSkin Dermatology. I had a virtual appointment today, and it was great. Doctor Mehrabi is very professional and very friendly. He goes above and beyond to help with your medical situation. His staff, especially Vera Alsaigh, helped me a lot starting from guiding me through online documents completion, making it very easy, and ending it by following up after the virtual appointment. I appreciate your help and definitely recommend this medical office to everyone.



Dr. Mehrabi did an amazing virtual consult with us and explained my son’s procedure very well. He also told us the pros and cons of why we shouldn’t do certain procedures. And Vera was awesome helping us get an appointment.

Char V


Everyone is so kind! Been very willing to work with me around my work schedule so I could get my virtual doctor appointment. Super helpful and informative! Highly recommend! Dr. Maggio is the best!

Deborah C

Don’t wait long to get rid of that stubborn skin, hair or nail problem. Your online dermatologist is just a click of the keyboard away.

Online Dermatology Case: HSV Infection (Cold Sores) Before and After Treatment
Online Dermatology Case: HSV Infection (Cold Sores) Before and After Treatment

Consulting Virtually to Make Healthy Skin a Reality

Online dermatology is a special consultation service focused on skin problems. It uses telecommunication advancements to connect people with real skin care specialists and give them access to safe and effective skin treatments. In its almost three decades of existence, a lot of dermatology patients have benefited greatly from this technology.

You, too, can take advantage of it. To ensure you get the best skin care and value for your money, book your online dermatology consultations only with a highly experienced, board-certified dermatologist. And if you’re in LA, you’ll never go wrong with a BHSkin Dermatology specialist.

Frequently-Asked Questions About Online Dermatology

We answer below the questions we commonly encounter among our virtual patients.

Do Online Dermatologists Accept Insurance?

Many health insurance providers cover medically necessary online dermatology visits, but not all. Check with your insurance company. At BHSkin Dermatology, we accept a vast array of health insurance plans.

Do Online Dermatologists Write Prescriptions?

Yes, dermatologists write prescriptions online the way they do in face-to-face visits. They can even call your preferred pharmacy to have your prescriptions filled.

Are Online Dermatologists Reliable?

Online dermatology has been around for nearly three decades, though most people did not truly appreciate its value until the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Studies show that online dermatology visits are as effective in managing various skin problems as in-person consultations. Cases include common skin conditions like acne, acute and chronic eczema, allergic rashes, psoriasis and many skin infections.

Moreover, with telecommunication advancements, online dermatology visits can be as accurate as face-to-face consultations in identifying skin cancer workup candidates. The store-and-forward format, in particular, has proven to be a cost-effective alternative to in-person visits in determining which individuals need a biopsy.

Can You Do a Virtual Visit for Acne?

Yes, you can book an online dermatologist appointment for acne. In fact, acne treatment is one of the most successful applications of this technology.

A young woman consulting online for acne
A young woman consulting online for acne

Can an Online Dermatologist Prescribe Accutane?

Yes, a dermatologist can legally prescribe the acne treatment Accutane online as they would in an in-person visit. This oral medication can lead to serious side effects. So regardless of how your dermatologist prescribes it to you, you must still meticulously observe the preventive measures that come with its use.

Can You Self-Refer to a Dermatologist?

Yes, you can see a board-certified dermatologist even without a referral. However, not all health insurance providers will cover your dermatology consultations and treatments if you get them without a referral from your primary care physician.

If you want insurance to take care of your dermatology bills, it’s best to check first with your primary care provider and insurance company. Doing so helps ensure you minimize your out-of-pocket costs.

Do You Have to Take Your Clothes Off During a Live Interactive Dermatologist Visit?

That depends on your lesion’s location.

You do not have to take off your clothes if it is in an exposed body area. But if it is in a covered site, your dermatologist may ask you to bare only that part so they can make a more accurate visual assessment.

If the lesion is in a sensitive area, you may ask for a chaperone to be present when you disrobe. Alternatively, you may take clear photos of the lesions in that location and upload them before your live visit.

In face-to-face encounters, a full body skin check is usually performed on patients having their first dermatologist visit, those on skin cancer surveillance and those with widespread lesions. Patients need to change into an exam gown for a full skin exam.

By comparison, a full-body skin check is usually not required during online visits if the lesion is in an exposed body part. But if necessary, you will be asked to make an in-person appointment to have one.

Get Treated Online by LA’s Award-Winning Dermatologists

Many skin conditions are more cost-effective to treat online than by going to a series of in-person doctor visits. Acne, infections and allergic rashes are just a few. But to ensure your telemedicine visit yields accurate results, you need to book your appointment with no less than a bona fide skin care specialist.

At BHSkin Dermatology, patients rave about the exceptional service they get from our skin doctors’ virtual visits. Besides online care, you may also see them in person at our Glendale or Encino clinic if you think yours is a complex condition.

Don’t wait! Book your appointment today!


Author: Don Mehrabi

Don Mehrabi, MD, FAAD, is LA’s leading board-certified dermatologist who treats patients, builds the BHSkin clinics, and raises three kids. This blog builds on medical studies combined with Dr. Mehrabi's first-hand experiences from practicing in Encino-Tarzana, Glendale, and online

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