A woman scratching her eczema

Discussing Eczema with Your Dermatologist

Eczema is a word that describes a group of conditions that cause skin to be slightly inflamed, itchy, and dry. A dermatologist is a doctor that specializes in dealing with skin disorders, and if you have eczema or you are concerned that you might, this is the specialist that you should be speaking to. In some cases, you can go to a dermatologist on your own, but in others, you need to get a referral from your primary care physician. 

How common is eczema?

The first thing that you should remember when you go to speak to a dermatologist about eczema is that it is fairly common. It is a condition that is very common in infants, and it strikes about 3% of all children and adults in the United States. Although eczema can be frustrating and irritating, it is not dangerous at all, and it is not contagious. Many people may only have a few flareups throughout their lives, and in most people, it can be controlled through lifestyle changes or medication. 

Do I have eczema?

The question of whether you have eczema is one that can only be determined for sure by a doctor or dermatologist. However, there are a few symptoms of eczema that are very common. For example, the area concerned is itchy, and the eczema itself shows up as a reddened rash. The rash is most common on the face and the neck, but you might also find it on the knees, wrists, feet, and hands. You may notice that the skin affected by eczema is very dry and feels scaly to the touch. The skin itself might be thickened, and there may be some discoloration.

What causes eczema?

The first thing that you should be aware of is that there is no test to diagnose eczema. Instead, the dermatologist will examine the affected area, and then he or she will ask you some questions. You may be asked what you eat, what you do on a regular basis, and if there are any times when the rash seems worse. Eczema is often made worse by allergies, and in some cases, people are not even aware of these allergies until they go to see the dermatologist about the eczema.

How is eczema treated?

After you and your dermatologist have determined that you have eczema, the next course of action is to make sure that you have a good treatment plan. The plan that you will create depends on the severity of your eczema and on the treatments that you can work into your life. For example, if your case is fairly mild, you may be able to relieve most if not all of your symptoms through the use of an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream. 

Your dermatologist will also likely caution you about things that make the condition worse, such as sweating, over-extertion, stress, irritating materials like wool and burlap, or heat changes. Remember that eczema is a condition that can be controlled. Talk to your dermatologist about it, and be honest and forthcoming. That is the best way to move forward!

Last Updated: June 14, 2016