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[5 min read] How to assess patient skin types & classifications

When dealing with skin health and appearance issues in primary care, it is essential to assess the patient’s skin type. Additional training in aesthetic medicine is often crucial to deciding on appropriate treatment and providing skincare advice.

For further information on how to assess skin types and skin classifications, you may be interested to learn more about the HealthCert Professional Diploma program in Aesthetic Medicine.

This article discusses the different methods for assessing skin type and classification and how primary care doctors can use this information to improve patient care.

Assessment methods

Practitioners in primary care often encounter patients who are seeking advice on how to improve their skin’s appearance. Aesthetic medicine has become increasingly popular in recent years, and it’s invaluable to accurately assess a patient’s skin type and classification to provide appropriate treatment recommendations.

The first step in assessing skin type is determining the patient’s skin’s moisture content. That’s done by using a skin hydration meter or by simply observing the skin for signs of dryness, oiliness, or a combination of both. Dry skin will appear flaky, itchy, and dull, while oily skin will appear shiny and greasy. Combination skin will have areas that are oily and areas that are dry.

Next, physicians can assess the patient’s skin sensitivity by observing any redness, irritation, or allergic reactions to skincare products or environmental factors. Sensitive skin will appear easily irritated or inflamed, while less sensitive skin will appear normal.

Fitzpatrick scale classification

Primary care doctors can use the Fitzpatrick Skin Type Classification to determine the patient’s skin colour and reaction to sunlight. The Fitzpatrick classification ranges from type I (pale, fair skin that burns easily) to type VI (darker skin that tans easily and rarely burns). This information is vital because it can help to determine the patient’s risk of skin cancer and guide recommendations for sun protection. It also helps to recommend the appropriate laser or light-based treatment.

What skin typing and classification are used for

Once the skin type and classification have been determined, primary care doctors can use this information to make appropriate treatment and skincare recommendations. For example, patients with dry skin will benefit from moisturising products and hyaluronic acid fillers.

Patients with oily skin may need to use oil-free products but may be good candidates for Botulinum toxin injections.

Individuals with sensitive skin should avoid products with fragrances or harsh chemicals. They also require a gentler approach with treatments such as chemical peels or laser skin resurfacing.

Patients with darker skin may need to use sunscreen with a higher SPF and avoid ablative laser treatments.

In summary

Assessing skin type and classification is an important aspect of primary care, especially for physicians looking to expand their portfolio by adding minimally invasive aesthetic treatments. By determining the patient’s skin moisture content, sensitivity, and reaction to sunlight, primary care doctors can provide appropriate treatment and skincare recommendations to improve patient care.

Last but not least, we should note that skin type can change over time and it is important to reassess the patient’s skin periodically.

– Dr Rosmy De Barros

For further information on this topic, you may be interested in HealthCert’s medical aesthetic training for doctors.

Read another article like this one: How to treat dull skin in primary care


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