THE IMPORTANCE OF ATOPIC DERMATITIS ASSESSMENT
Before you go to your next doctor’s appointment, it’s a good idea to do an honest and thorough assessment of your condition.
This assessment provides important information not just for your doctor but also for yourself. It shows you where you are now, how atopic dermatitis (AD) is currently affecting your life, how treatment is improving your condition, and more importantly, how far you have come and how much closer you are to reaching your goals.1-3
Talk to you doctor about how often you should be doing these assessments, but feel free to perform them more often if you need to. It’s a great way to take control of your AD.
PART 1: SYMPTOM ASSESSMENT
Whether it’s your first visit or a follow-up, it’s important to give your doctor as much information about your experiences as possible. Bringing notes about the symptoms you have been experiencing is a good way to share this information.
Here are a couple of ways to track your symptoms:
Keep a Journal.
This is a great way of tracking your AD. You can write what you want, whenever you want, including not just symptoms, but also quick thoughts and questions you might want to ask your doctor. It’s also a simple way to keep all of your notes in one place.
It’s best to use a small notebook that you can carry with you wherever you go. That way you can write exactly how you feel in that moment and share your honest experience with your doctor.
An alternative to a physical notebook is a digital one that you can download into your mobile phone, you can choose from any number of note taking and journaling apps.
It can be hard to describe the way your skin looks during a flare. Pictures are a great way of showing your doctor exactly what is going on, while removing the pressure of looking for the right words away from you. Make sure to take note of the dates, that way you can relate it with your other notes.
Along with keeping track of your symptoms, it’s also a good idea to assess how they are impacting your daily activities. This interactive assessment tool5 allows you to make customized reports, as often as every week to show you doctor how AD has been affecting your life.
Tracking your symptoms, evaluating how they are affecting your life are important ways to uncover the true burden of AD. After living with the condition for a while, you can grow used to the burden that comes with it and may not realize how big an impact it’s making.2-4 In revealing a true picture of your AD, you help your doctor recommend better treatments if needed to keep it under control.
PART 2: SETTING PERSONAL GOALS
As you continue on your journey of living with AD, it’s important to keep sight of what you want to achieve. Atopic dermatitis should not prevent you from living your life to the fullest.
The first step is to identify your personal goals. There are no right answers. This questionnaire is something for you to think about, something you can use to help identify what are the most important objective for your AD treatment.
Goal Setting Questionnaire1
Instructions: There are 25 statements. Read each statement, then choose a number to determine how important this objective is for you. Numbers range from 0 - not important at all, to 10 – of highest importance.
▢ I want to be free of pain.
▢ I want to be free of itching.
▢ I no longer want to feel burning sensations on my skin.
▢ I want to be healed of all skin defects.
▢ I want to be able to sleep better.
▢ I want to feel less depressed.
▢ I want to experience a greater enjoyment of life.
▢ I want to have no fear that my AD will become worse.
▢ I want to be able to lead a normal everyday life.
▢ I want to be more productive in everyday life.
▢ I want to be less of a burden to relatives and friends.
▢ I want to be able to engage in normal leisure activities.
▢ I want to be able to lead a normal working life.
▢ I want to be able to have more contact with other people.
▢ I want to be more comfortable showing myself more in public.
▢ I want to be less of a burden to my partner.
▢ I want to have a normal sex life.
▢ I want to be less dependent on doctor or clinic visits.
▢ I want to spend less time for daily treatments.
▢ I want to have fewer medical expenses.
▢ I want to have fewer side effects from medication.
▢ I want to find a clear diagnosis and therapy.
▢ I want to have confidence in my therapy.
▢ I want to get better skin quickly.
▢ I want to regain control of my AD.
PART 3: MONITORING YOUR IMPROVEMENT
As you move forward with your treatment journey, it’s good to monitor your improvement. Are you closer to achieving the goals you set in your last appointment? If not, why do you think these goals are not being met? Do you think there are ways of adjusting management strategy and drug therapy to better meet your goals? Have your goals changed since the last visit?
Bringing these results and concerns to your doctor will help him make the right choices for you.
Augustin, M., Langenbruch, A., Blome, M., et al. (2020). Characterizing treatment-related patient needs in atopic eczema: insights for personalized goal orientation. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol 34(1):142-152. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jdv.15919
Bieber, T. (2010). Atopic dermatitis. Ann Dermatol. 22(2):125-137. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2883413/
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. https://www.jaci-inpractice.org/article/S2213-2198(17)30615-3/fulltext
Zuberbier, T., Orlow, S.J., Paller, A.S., et al. (2006). Patient perspectives on the management of atopic dermatitis. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 118(1):226-232. https://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(06)00450-7/fulltext
Charman, C.R., Venn, A.J. & Williams, H.C. (2004). The patient-oriented ecema measure: development and initial validation of a new tool for measuring atopic eczema severity from the pateints’ perspective. Arch Dermatol. 140(12):1513-1519. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamadermatology/fullarticle/480876
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.