Following my previous blog, I thought it would be good to provide useful tips when visiting a specialist. These are all based on personal experiences.
Advice and tips
First of all, wearing comfortable clothing to the consultation is important. Chances are that you’ll be asked to take these off for the specialist to examine you. The more comfortable the clothing, the easier it is to take off and put back on. I remember one time I attended a consultation wearing tights and I truly regretted doing that!
List of questions
Secondly, prepare a list of questions prior to the consultation. There is nothing worse than being given the opportunity to ask questions and then having nothing prepared. Try brainstorming different topics and then write them down. On some occasions I’ve left a consultation and then questions pop into my head afterwards which is very annoying.
Thirdly, write a list of all current medications you are taking. Make sure you also include creams, ointments and bath products. Any current medications you are taking may also determine what they prescribe. They may also advise if any current medications you are taking might be affecting your eczema. In addition, make a note of any medical conditions you have. For example, I have hay fever and asthma which concluded that I have atopic eczema. You may also be asked about your family’s medical history. Therefore, make a note of your immediate family’s medical conditions.
Physical and mental wellbeing
During your consultation, ask how they can help and support you mentally as well as physically. This may be counselling or some type of psychotherapy service. They may refer you to someone who specialises in skincare and other health conditions or a generic counsellor or psychotherapist.
Skin and allergey Testing
Find out if you can have any skin tests for allergies. This is helpful as it could determine if there are any products, animals or food that triggers your eczema. More information can be found on the links below:
Skin patch test –https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contact-dermatitis/diagnosis/
Blood tests – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/allergies/diagnosis/
If treatment options such as steroid tablets or UV light treatment are recommended ask for further information. Most dermatologists are likely to have information at hand anyway but still worth requesting. Furthermore, do your own research and ask for advice from others. If you do not know anyone directly with eczema then try joining eczema related support group via social media. I have read and learnt so many different things just by joining multiple eczema support groups.
Finally, have photos ready of your eczema showing the best and worst with dates. This is so that they see what your eczema is like overtime rather than making a current judgement. This is something that I wished I had done and think it’s beneficial.
I hope that all of these things are helpful and useful. This may be irrelevant right now during a pandemic, but I’m sure this may become relevant again one day. Even if you have a virtual consultation some of these tips are still possible to do. Why not start taking some pictures from now? Then maybe repeat monthly and more often if you have a flare up. At least then once consultations are face to face again you can show pictures over a period of time.