CREATING YOUR HEALTH CARE DREAM TEAM
If you’re only seeing one doctor for your atopic dermatitis, you may be missing out. For some people, having a team of different health care professionals delivers better results.1-6
Do you need more people to help you manage atopic dermatitis? How can you find your own dream team? Read on and find out.
Taking control of atopic dermatitis requires teamwork.
Atopic dermatitis is a complex condition that requires lifelong management.2,3 It’s not just an itchy rash.1 It can affect your sleep, increase your risk for developing other diseases, evenimpact your relationships and mental health.1-3 To manage atopic dermatitis effectively, you need to learn as much as you can about how it affects your body, what triggers your flares, how to avoid them, what treatments work for you, and the correct ways of applying specific treatments.1-3
For some, working with one doctor is enough. But those who have more severe symptoms or who develop physical or psychological complications, could benefit from having more healthcare professionals helping out.1-6
If you are not reaching your treatment goals, you might need a bigger health care team.
Who could be part of your team?
There are many different health care professionals with complementary skill sets that can contribute to atopic dermatitis treatment. Here are just a few of the more common examples of potential team members:
Primary physician – This is an essential part of your team, the captain, the doctor who will make all the major treatment decisions.1,3 They will coordinate and communicate with all the other members of the team to make sure everyone is on the same page. The best person for this job is a dermatologist and/or an allergy specialist, who can not only diagnose the condition, but also identify related conditions that some general practitioners are less familiar with.3,5 Specialists also tend to be better informed about the pros and cons of newly discovered treatments.
Nurse or physician’s assistant – In some cases, your primary physician may not have enough time to give you a full education about atopic dermatitis or all of the lifestyle modifications that you might need to make.3 In these situations, you can benefit from having a dedicated person such as a nurse or assistant. Other potential roles that this member of the team can play is to listen to common concerns about medication or minor symptoms, more detailed information about or demonstrations of certain treatments, or helping the team captain coordinate with other team members.3 They can also help teach other member of your family and/or support group.
Psychologist, psychiatrist or mental health specialist – If your atopic dermatitis is having an emotional or psychological struggle, which is common people with chronic conditions, this team member will be invaluable.1,3,6 Even if you don’t think you are having these issues, a periodic check-in with a mental health specialist can help you cope with stress and prevent the development of depression, anxiety and low self-esteem.1
Nutritionist or dietician – Food is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Advice and guidance on what foods to eat to remain healthy and avoid malnutrition, especially if you need to avoid certain foods that have been proven to trigger your flares, can be super helpful.1,3
Pediatrician – Atopic dermatitis management in infants, children and adolescents can be significantly different from adult care. In these situations, it’s best to have someone on the team who not only knows how to manage younger people with the condition but is also well-versed in other health concerns for these age groups.1
Geriatric specialist – Similarly, atopic dermatitis in the elderly can pose very specific challenges. A doctor with specialized knowledge about the unique changes that occur in the aging body may deliver a better quality of care of older people.
Dermatologist – Skin rash and damage are major symptoms in atopic dermatitis.1-3 If your primary physician is not a specialist in skin care, having one on your team can help you achieve better cosmetic results in the long run.1
Pain management specialist or acupuncturist – If your atopic dermatitis is causing significant pain and discomfort, then this team member will be a big help. Acupuncture works for some people but not for others, not just for pain but also for relief from stress.1
Sleep disorder specialist – In some cases, managing the symptoms of atopic dermatitis in and of itself will result in better sleep, but some people might develop more complicated sleep disorders that require more specialized assessment and care.2,3
How do you get your team together?
If you feel that you would benefit from a bigger health care team, the first step is talking to your doctor. You both need to agree that this is the best course of action and you will need to outline what you expect. Your doctor will be able to refer you to a trusted colleague.
There are some hospitals and health care institutions with existing teams of different doctors that have experience working together, these are given the more formal name of multidisciplinary health care teams.2-6 But if that option is not available to you, then you can build your team one member at a time with the help of your primary physician.1-3
It might take a bit of time before you get your full dream team together, but it will be worth it.
National Eczema Association. (2019, updated 2020). “Squad Goals: Build Your Own Eczema Care Team”. https://nationaleczema.org/blog/squad-goals/ (Accessed July 28, 2022).
Spielman, S.C., LeBovidge, J.S., Timmons, K.G. & Schneider L.C. (2015). A review of multidisciplinary interventions in atopic dermatitis. J Clin Med. 4(5):1156-1170.
LeBovidge, J.S., Elverson, W., Timmons, K.G., et al. (2016). Multidisciplinary interventions in the management of atopic dermatitis. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 138(2):325-334.
Stocum, L. (2021). “Atopic Dermatitis Better Handled with Multidisciplinary Approach”. Dermatology Times. https://www.dermatologytimes.com/view/atopic-dermatitis-better-handled-with-multidisciplinary-approach (Accessed July 28, 2022).
Gavidia, M. (2022). “Multidisciplinary Approach Identifies Allergic, Immunology Burden in Severe AD”. AJMC. https://www.ajmc.com/view/multidisciplinary-approach-identifies-allergic-immunology-burden-in-severe-ad (Accessed July 28, 2022).
Leong, K., Ong, T.W.Y., Foong, Y-W., et al. (2022). Multidisciplinary management of chronic atopic dermatitis in children and adolescents: a prospective pilot study. J Dermatol Treat. 32(2):822-828. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32530338/
Health information contained herein is provided for general educational purposes only. Your healthcare professional is the single best source of information regarding your health. Please consult your healthcare professional if you have any questions about your health or treatment.