Atopic dermatitis is a lifelong condition.1,2 As you move forward on your treatment journey, it can be frustrating if you aren’t getting the results that you want. Regular check-ups with your doctor are a great way of keeping both a positive and realistic outlook.
Open Communication is the key to successful treatment.
You need to be able to talk to your doctor openly.3-5 Not just about your symptoms, but also how your condition affects your life - physically, mentally, and emotionally.1,2 Your doctor needs this information to make the appropriate lifestyle and treatment recommendations.1,2
A healthy relationship with your doctor therefore contributes greatly to the success of your treatment.3,4
Elements of a healthy relationship with your doctor:3
- Trust. You think your doctor is trustworthy and you trust his recommendations.
- Knowledge. Your doctor gives you the information you want and addresses your concerns.
- Regard. You find your doctor friendly, warm, emotionally supportive, and caring.
- Support. Your doctor gives you continuous care and support.
If some of these elements are missing, try to figure out why. Then, consider talking with your doctor about how to fix it.5 Try to have reasonable expectations about doctors, while they do not have magic cures, as health professionals they will always be willing to work towards a better understanding.5
Keep in mind that the key to building a good relationship is open communication.3-5 Working with a doctor that you trust and respect will help you avoid frustration and miscommunication along the way.3-5
Game plan for appointment days.
Each visit with your doctor should have an objective. Initial visits are usually about evaluating your condition, setting goals, and agreeing on a plan to reach your goals. Subsequent visits can be checkpoints to see if you are reaching these goals, or problem-solving if a new symptom crops up.
This framework makes it easier to discuss managing atopic dermatitis with your doctor. This allows your doctor to recommend changes in management to better meet your goals if you are not achieving control. You can also tell your doctor when your goals change, so that your treatment plan can be adjusted accordingly.
Don’t forget to bring your notes, your diary or journal, and pictures of your skin to help you explain what you have been experiencing. This also helps you remember any questions that you might suddenly have had while you were out of the clinic. These strategies help you feel in control, and helps both you and your doctor understand each other, and your condition better.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Leverage your doctor’s expertise. They can help you understand your condition, and help you find the appropriate individualized treatment for your specific situation.1-3 They have the training and experience to help guide you.
While you can do your own research about your condition and available treatments, it’s best to discuss things with your doctor, to confirm what you are learning from other sources. Remember, your doctor has your best interests in mind. They want to help; you just have to let them.
Examples of questions you can ask your doctor:
- What is causing this symptom? What can I do to address or prevent it?
- What will this medicine do? When do we expect it to start working?
- Can you recommend a book, website or social media account that talks about atopic dermatitis?
- I have heard of this treatment for atopic dermatitis, do you think this can work for me?
The right information will minimize your stress level. This education will help you be more successful at keeping control of atopic dermatitis.1,2
Bieber, T. (2010). Atopic dermatitis. Ann Dermatol. 22(2):125-137.
Boguniewicz, M., Alexis, A.F., Beck, L.A, et al. (2017). Expert perspectives on management of moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis: a multidisciplinary consensus addressing current and emerging therapies. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 5(6):1519-1531.
Chipidza, F.E., Wallwork, R.S. & Stern, T.A. (2015). Impact of the Doctor-Patient Relationship. Prim Care Companion CNS Disord. 17(5):10.4088/PCC.15f01840.
Pellegrini, C.A. (2017). “Trust: The Keystone of the Physician-Patient Relationship.” Bulletin of the American College of Surgeons. https://bulletin.facs.org/2017/01/trust-the-keystone-of-the-physician-patient-relationship/ (Accessed July 27, 2022).
National Eczema Association. (2019, updated 2021). “How to break up with you doctor (and find the right one for you).” https://nationaleczema.org/blog/break-up-doctor/ (Accessed July 27, 2022).
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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.