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How I Wish Dermatologists Would Handle Appointments with Eczema Patients

My name is Terry and I am from the Bay Area of California, USA. When I developed eczema at the age of 5, my life quickly became a series of dermatology visits that always led to the prescription of steroid creams and ointments.

The routine often went something like this:

  • Doctor: (Looks over my skin.) You have eczema.
  • Me: (Blank look.)
  • Doctor: Here’s a prescription for hydrocortisone.

Follow-up visit

  • Doctor: (Looks over my skin.) You still have eczema.
  • Me: (Nod)
  • Doctor: Here’s prescription for cortisone/prednisone/the latest steroid product on the market and a lifetime supply of refills so you don’t have to keep coming back here to renew your steroid prescription.
  • Me: (Thinking to myself: AKA “I approve of as many refills as you need! Even if you are not showing any improvement from them!”)

Same story different doctor

No matter how many different dermatologists I went to, it was the same story and often there was no other option they offered for treating eczema. Lifestyle advice like improving diet, stress management, or using safer skincare options were not even mentioned!

Luckily, I found my miracle worker in a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) doctor who also had a Ph.D. in Dermatology whose herbs and diet advice helped me detoxify my system and find relief.

While not everyone will have the same results I did using TCM, I at least wish that my experience before having to be forced to seek an “alternative” route to treating my skin was a better one. I wish that Western doctors were trained to be more compassionate and curious about how and why their patients’ skin conditions occur the way they do, so that they could offer more thoughtful and accurate prescriptions than just giving a default answer. And with certain drug companies being known to give doctors commissions and other perks to prescribing a certain quota of their drug to their patients, I am always left feeling somewhat skeptical about Western doctor prescriptions in general.

My version of a successful doctor’s appointment

If I could have it my way, this is how I would like an appointment with a Western dermatologist to go:

  • Doctor: How are you doing today?
  • Me: My skin is feeling very itchy and hot and when I scratch it, it breaks the skin and oozes very easily.
  • Doctor: When did this start?
  • Me: When I was 5, after using a dirty blanket sleeping over at a family friend’s house on the way to Disneyland.
  • Doctor: Do you notice if anything makes it feel better or worse?
  • Me: Not yet.
  • Doctor: I would advise you to write a journal and note any patterns of itchiness and try to avoid those. Also, how is your diet? What do you normally eat?
  • Me: Pizza, spaghetti, burgers, ice-cream, Snickers, etc.
  • Doctor: Those foods might be making your skin worse. Try adding more fruits and vegetables.

Just a little more compassion, curiosity, and the right questions can go a long way to preventing a lifetime of steroid addiction and disappointment.

In the meantime, I hope for a better future when it comes to eczema care!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The AtopicDermatitis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Terry Alabata author
    6 months ago

    It really is so robotic and devoid of any human caring or compassion. I know a lot of these doctors get huge commissions and gifts for prescribing essentially a drug addiction. They can be such heartless product pushers without any care for anything that is beyond their ability to heal. It’s like, what was the point of them even getting a PhD in Dermatology? You are alone in your frustration.

    Have you looked into alternative/other healers to help you get some relief?

  • Storm
    6 months ago

    This resonates so much with me. So many times I’ve left the GP with exactly the same advice as I’ve been given before…. advice that clearly isn’t working.

    They act like robots or broadband first line tech support reading from a script. It helps nobody.

  • Terry Alabata author
    6 months ago

    It really is so robotic and devoid of any human caring or compassion. I know a lot of these doctors get huge commissions and gifts for prescribing essentially a drug addiction. They can be such heartless product pushers without any care for anything that is beyond their ability to heal. It’s like, what was the point of them even getting a PhD in Dermatology? You are alone in your frustration.

    Have you looked into alternative/other healers to help you get some relief?

  • Karla
    1 year ago

    I am 66 and had eczema my entire life. Saw numerous dermatologists in my life. Ten years ago I finally found the dermatologist who really cared. After many creams and a trip to the University of Michigan he finally talked to me about going on Celcept. It is an Immunosuppressive drug mostly used for transplant patient. I went on it for a year, off for 6 months back on and then completely off. I have been eczema free for 3 years. I might have a small flare up, but before this drug, my skin was raw and my face was raw from the eczema. I only use Cetaphil and Cerave creams. Eucerin made my skin worse. Please talk to your doctor about this. It worked for me

  • Terry Alabata author
    1 year ago

    Hi Karla,

    Thank you for your comment and suggestion! I probably should have premised this article by stating that I’m now in a good place with my skin without the use of pharmaceuticals for the past 8 years. I tend to lean more towards lifestyle changes with diet, stress management and am an herbalist, so those help me pretty well if I have a flareup. Commercial lotions like Cetaphil and Cerave aggravate even my skin, so I sometimes make my own skincare or purchase a very select few organic botanical brands which has been working out for me. I’m glad you found something that’s worked for you and are experiencing relief as well! Always good to know about what works for eczema for different people!

  • anthony.carrone moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi Karla, I’m really happy to hear you found a doctor that is a good match! Sometimes finding that doctor-patient relationship you’re looking for is the hardest part! And you’re so right about talking to your doctor first; very important to do before trying anything new! Thanks for sharing! Best, Anthony (AtopicDermatitis.net Team Member)

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