causes unpleasant symptoms, including itchy, flaky, red, and patchy skin. It is
these symptoms that lead most people to seek out a doctor’s care. Whether
you’ve had eczema since you were young or you have only recently developed the
signs of this skin disorder, a trip to your doctor can help you get the right
diagnosis and treatment.
There are a few types of
doctors that can help you with your eczema diagnosis and treatment. While a
family doctor or primary care physician (PCP) may know you better and be more
affordable, a specialist may be better versed in treating eczema and conditions
like it. Choosing whom to see is largely a personal matter.
Primary Care Physician
Primary care doctors include internists, family practice
doctors, and pediatricians who treat children. Most people begin their medical
treatment here. Young and older adults with eczema can see an internist for an
evaluation of the skin condition, while adults and children can see a family
practice physician or pediatrician for an examination. If necessary, these
doctors can refer you to a specialist for treatment.
A dermatologist is a doctor who specializes in
conditions of the skin, hair, and nails. Dermatologists will be able to
diagnose eczema and prescribe the right treatment for a child, teen, or adult with
the chronic skin condition. This will most likely include medicine to target
specific symptoms, either topical (applied to the skin) or oral (taken by
mouth). The doctor will also suggest behavioral changes to help control your
symptoms. If there is another underlying problem, such as asthma or hay fever,
he or she can refer you to the right specialist.
An allergist is a doctor who specializes in treating
individuals with allergies. If an allergy is causing your eczema, the allergist
will help find the specific cause using a series of tests.
Your doctor will begin your
appointment by listening to your concerns and looking at your skin. Giving your
doctor as many details as possible will ensure that you get the right diagnosis
and the best treatment for your particular type of eczema.
Make sure to tell your doctor:
- what your symptoms are
- how long you have had the
- if anything serves to
aggravate or relieve your eczema
In addition to explaining your symptoms, after
your doctor has diagnosed your eczema, you can ask questions like:
- Are there any things you
should avoid to reduce flare-ups?
- Are there over-the-counter
products that can help itching and redness?
- Can he or she recommend
any home treatments for relief?
- Are there any drug
reactions to worry about if the doctor prescribes a topical or oral medication?
For many people, the hardest
part of dealing with eczema is embarrassment. While treating and preventing
flare-ups is the first line of defense, occasional symptoms may not be
completely preventable. Your doctor may be able to direct you to local support
groups. Also, the National Eczema Association offers a support group network
with groups across the country (NEA).