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Dermatology (Skin conditions)

Dermatology (Skin conditions)



Dermatology Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

We appreciate that many patients are currently worried about the COVID-19 pandemic, and want information and advice in order to make decisions about their own care, and those around them.

We are receiving a lot of calls regarding this and are doing our best to respond. Please see the following advice, which will be regularly updated, before contacting us:

Following advice from the Government, there are some clinical conditions and treatments which place people at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Specific measures advised:  There are two categories of measures: very careful social distancing and shielding.

What is very careful social distancing?

Asking people to stay at home and avoid contact is a form of social distancing. For people taking drugs that target the immune system, very careful social distancing is advised. You can read the social distancing guidance on the GOV.UK website: 

Read the social distancing guidance on the GOV.UK website

What is shielding?

Shielding is a measure to protect people who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) by minimising all face to face interaction between those who are extremely vulnerable and others. You’re strongly advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact if you’re clinically extremely vulnerable to protect yourself.

How do I know if I need to shield?

There a number of medical conditions that may place you at the greatest risk of severe illness. Please see the following government advice: Read the shielding guidance on the GOV.UK website

I am on an immunosuppressant medication, should I shield?

Please refer to the table in this webpage to help understand which patients have been identified in the ‘shielded’ category:

You will see in the table that there is a middle column where the risk of COVID-19 / coronavirus may place patients at a moderate risk, and these patients are advised to shield if there are other concerns, high risk circumstances or other medical conditions. 

You may also find that the following link from Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust “Dermatology and coronavirus: frequently asked questions” is helpful. At the bottom of the website you will find “Table 2: self-assessment risk calculator.” Patients can use this to calculate their health risks to see if they are required to shield.

Should I stop taking my medicine?

We are not advising patients to routinely stop or reduce their medications

If you develop symptoms of Coronavirus infection (or if a member of your household has symptoms of Coronavirus infection and you are self-isolating, you should not administer any doses of biologics/immunosuppressant during this period until it is clear you are well. The exception to this is if you are taking corticosteroids (prednisolone or hydrocortisone tablets) as this should not be stopped abruptly.

Should I have received a letter identifying me as a patient who is required to “shield”?

We have undertaken a large amount of work to identify the patients who are required to “shield”.  They should have received a letter either from their GP or from our department informing them that they need to be ‘shielded’ from the virus with stringent self-isolation for 12 weeks (the current estimate is until late June 2020, but this is likely to be reviewed).

I think I should be shielding, but I have not received a letter telling me to do this? Or

I have received a letter stating that I should shield, but I don’t think this is correct

In the Newcastle Dermatology Department, we used a combination of databases to identify patients in this group.  We are confident that the vast majority of patients have been correctly identified, but unavoidably a number of patients will have been missed or included unnecessarily.  If you feel that you should be included in the ‘shielded’ group or if you have been included unnecessarily then you can contact the department:  or telephone on 0191 282 4783

How can I get help if I am shielding?

If you need help with care but you’re not sure who to contact please visit 

How have the Dermatology services changed?

We have cancelled all routine Dermatology follow up appointments except for those with urgent skin cancers and those taking medications that need monitoring or injecting. We are not currently seeing routine new patients but the situation is under regular review.

Please contact us if you are under our care and you urgently need to be seen by Dermatologist, or if you require telephone advice.

General practitioners can continue to contact the department via ‘Advice and Guidance’. Urgent cases should be discussed with the on-call team.

You should continue to attend for your scheduled blood monitoring appointments, unless told otherwise. Some guidance for regular monitoring is being extended, so you may be asked to lengthen the gap between your blood tests if they have been normal.

You can continue to contact the Department if you have a problem and are under our care.

Useful Contact Email Addresses and Contact Numbers:

For those taking medications that need blood monitoring:

0191 282 4783 or email

For Skin Cancer patients:

General Dermatology Enquiries:

0191 282 4597 or email

If you send us an email please state your name, date of birth, NHS number, address and which doctor/nurse you see in the department.

Other useful links:

Please read the letter to our dermatology patients taking Biologic agents/Dupilumab by clicking on the link below:

Letter for patients taking Dupilumab.pdf

Letter for patients who usually receive their biologic injection at the RVI.pdf

Letter for patients who usually self inject biologic medications at home.pdf

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