Are You Going to the “Right” Doctor?
One of the most common pieces of feedback I hear from those in the eczema community is the lack of proper treatment from healthcare providers.
I experience people saying things like, "My doctor doesn't believe that food has anything to do with eczema. Can you believe that?" or "My doctor doesn't believe in topical steroid withdrawal (TSW)." or "Why hasn't my doctor done any type of allergy testing with me?"
Can you relate to any of these?
Are you seeing the "wrong" doctor?
Well, what if I told you that your lack of treatment options and healing could be because you may be (or have been) going to the "wrong" doctor? And not wrong in the sense that your particular doctor doesn't hold any credibility, but maybe they simply do not specialize in atopic dermatitis/eczema.
Based on my experience, here is a list of the most common types of doctors people in the eczema community go to when seeking support:
Pediatricians are known to care for children from birth to young adulthood. According to WebMD, they are "trained to diagnose and treat a broad range of childhood illnesses, from minor health problems to serious diseases."
The keyword here is "broad," meaning that most pediatricians may not have the specialty or the proper, in-depth knowledge to treat the range and severity of atopic dermatitis.
Upon reflection, this could have possibly been why my doctor did not provide my parents with more resources or treatment options growing up. They were probably so busy trying to gain the knowledge necessary for all childhood illnesses that it was impossible to learn everything about eczema.
Family physicians will care for the whole family. They tend to focus on yearly checkups, minuscule and curable illnesses like the cold or the flu, and they'll support you in managing ongoing conditions.
Like pediatricians, they focus on a broad range of illnesses and treatments and do not necessarily specialize in one or the other.
A recent blog I created discussed the shocking information that most dermatologists are interested in cosmetic treatment or surgery. A Dermatology Market Overview shows that 60% of dermatologists are considered general dermatologists, while the second-highest percentage at 20% are considered cosmetic dermatologists.1
What does this tell me? It shows me that only a few dermatologists specialize in these chronic skin conditions, like eczema, psoriasis, and acne.
Allergists and immunologists treat immune system disorders such as eczema, asthma, and food allergies.
If you're looking to see what you're allergic to, allergists are your best shot!
My trust in doctors was actually built after meeting an allergist who made me feel heard and worked with me to co-create a treatment plan. This same doctor supported me in getting allergy testing done and helped me get on the Dupixent trials back in 2015.
Nutritionists support others with the types of foods and nutrition one needs to meet their health goals and live a healthier life overall.
It's important to note that nutritionists do not need a specific certificate or degree to practice. According to Medical News Today, "Nutritionists' qualifications and experience can be more variable, so people should check that a practitioner has adequate training for their needs before signing up for their services."2
Unlike nutritionists, dieticians must have a license to practice in the US. As a result, they can treat people with diseases like eczema. Registered Dietician Nutritionists (RDN) can be referred by other doctors and are covered by some insurances.
Nutritionists and dieticians can greatly support the day-to-day eating habits of those living with eczema.
So what now?
Now that you know this information, I invite you to reflect on your personal experience with doctors. What types of doctors were you seeking support from throughout your journey living with eczema? What did you initially expect from them? (Example: A dermatologist giving you nutritional advice). Did they specialize or have a high clientele of those with atopic dermatitis? What worked or didn't work?
Based on your reflection, now you can choose which doctor will ultimately provide you with the support you seek. Maybe you need a combination of multiple doctors to support you with your health goals. It was only when I became aware of the different roles doctors and healthcare practitioners played that I realized I could engage with more than one doctor to support my health goal.
Go for it
AKA, DO IT. Set up your appointment with the doctor(s) of your choice. Show up to the appointment and go from there.
Tip: Be sure to research your doctors beforehand. Perhaps even give them a call to ask about what they specialize in and the percentage of clientele they have living with eczema.
Based on your personal experience, what type of doctor has supported you in better managing your eczema? Let me know in the comments!
Have you ever refused a medication or treatment?