Ask the Advocate: Tips for Your Dermatologist Visit
Come prepared and ask thoughtful questions
Jeff: Before I see my dermatologist I always make a mental list of the topics that I’d like to discuss. Occasionally, I’ll write something down but I mainly take that step when it’s difficult to pronounce the medication, treatment, or condition that I’m curious about.
Know your condition
I like to do my own research before I visit my dermatologist. Every so often I feel that I may know “more” about a topic than they do. This shouldn’t be taken as a jab at my doctor. I’m just trying to be realistic with the situation. There is a lot of information out there to keep up with! After all, eczema is just one component of their practice.
Knowledge is power
Asking thoughtful questions is fundamental for a solid healthcare routine. In the end, I’m the only person that is going to truly make a difference when it comes to the treatment of my skin. My advice to you is to ask away! Get to know your condition, its underlying causes, and any other information that you can. Knowledge is power.
Get personalized advice about your prescriptions
Harrison: Aside from the expectation that visiting a dermatologist might not be the best idea (perhaps having read an online article, or heard from friends), let us consider for a moment you are a new eczema fighter and wish to give a skin specialist a fair chance.
How can you make the best out of this visit? What questions do you ask to gain the most value, more so than answers you can easily find online?
First, expect to hear what you may already know. You will be diagnosed with eczema in the first visit, and after the consultation, you will likely be prescribed the eczema combo: aqueous cream, steroids (topical or oral), and sometimes antibiotics.
Second, ask for personalized advice relating to the drugs.
- What is finger tip unit (FTU)? How much FTU to use from the steroid cream?
- How often to use per day? When is the best time to apply?
- What is the maximum application per day or week?
- Can you demonstrate how to apply (e.g. dilute on your finger first, or rub directly)?
Third, ask for recommendations other than how to use the given prescriptions. This is the critical point where you discover how much experience a dermatologist has with eczema patients. Does the specialist talk about diet and/or stress? Further, ask about previous patients, what were their common obstacles (so you don’t have to repeat the same)?
See someone who is willing to work with you
Terry: If I were to see a Western dermatologist again, I would just try to nip things in the bud from the get-go and see if they are open to integrative medicine or considering alternative or ancient ways of healing the skin through diet and lifestyle other than using pharmaceutical drugs. If they only want me to listen to them and blindly use steroid prescriptions and do not consider the fact that I have used them for 15 years straight without having my eczema cured at all, I would probably just not move forward and avoid wasting either of our times.
Trust your gut and intuition
Probably the best thing to do when it comes to eczema and seeing a specialist is that you see someone who is willing to work with you and not try to dominate or bully you or pressure you into only using the prescriptions they prescribe and consider any other ideas that you might have that your gut and intuition are guiding you to try out.
Have you been diagnosed with atopic dermatitis?