Getting the Most From Healthcare Appointments

Good communication with your doctor is one of the most important ways you can take an active role in managing your atopic dermatitis.13

Remember, your doctor is an expert on medical care, and you are the expert on yourself. By sharing your unique experience, you and your doctor can work together to make the best decisions for your care. You’ll feel more in control of your atopic dermatitis, plus good communication can actually have a positive effect on your health.13,20

Other tips that may help:

  • Learn more about atopic dermatitis. Being well-informed will help improve how you work with your doctor so you can find ways of better managing your condition. Learn more here
  • Be open and honest. You may feel uncomfortable at first, but without the full story, your doctor is working at a disadvantage
  • Tracking can help. Between appointments, record the number and severity of your flare-ups, and any possible triggers
  • Plan to share. Take time to consider how atopic dermatitis is affecting your quality of life, and plan to share this information with your doctor
  • Know your treatment options. It's helpful to know your options so that you can make an informed decision with your doctor, in regards to your treatment and needs. Learn more here
  • Prepare for appointments. Before you go, decide what you want to discuss. Jot down any questions you have, and gather any information you may want to share
  • Ask again, if necessary. If you don’t understand your doctor’s explanation or are unclear about what the next steps are, ask. Unless you speak up, your doctor won’t know there’s a problem

Plan ahead

This activity is designed to help you start thinking about things you may want to discuss with your doctor. Each of the following topics includes suggested information to share with your doctor and examples of questions you may want to ask. Explore each topic to get a better idea of what you may want to discuss at your next appointment.

Being well-informed, understanding the symptoms of atopic dermatitis and their possible causes, and developing a partnership with your healthcare team all contribute to improving your overall quality of life.9

What to share:
  • Health goals21
  • Anything new you've tried since your last visit
  • Frequency and severity of your flare-ups, and their effect on your daily life
  • How your skin has been since your last visit
What to ask:
  • What causes atopic dermatitis?
  • What else can I do to better manage my atopic dermatitis?
  • What can I do to help prevent skin infections?
  • What treatment options are available for my condition?

Some of the effects of atopic dermatitis may impact other areas of your life such as sleeplessness and itch.

What to share:
  • The symptoms that are currently bothering you
  • How often they occur
  • How you manage symptoms now
  • Any recent changes in your symptoms
What to ask:
  • How have other patients dealt with the emotional aspect of living with atopic dermatitis?
  • What changes to my environment might help?
  • Is my current skin-care routine the best option for me?
  • What treatments are available for more severe forms of atopic dermatitis?
  • Are there newer treatment options available or in development?

Atopic dermatitis has a high impact on your quality of life.

What to share:
  • If your atopic dermatitis is making you feel down or blue
  • Specific examples of how your life is affected by atopic dermatitis
  • Any steps you’re taking to manage the impact of atopic dermatitis on your life
What to ask:
  • What are some local resources like support groups I could participate in?
  • Are my feelings common among people with atopic dermatitis?
  • What could I change to help me better manage my atopic dermatitis?

The Benefits of Having an Action Plan

Another important part of self-managing your atopic dermatitis is understanding what to do, and when to do it.

That’s why having an action plan can be helpful. An action plan is a personalised document created with your healthcare team. The plan outlines your doctor’s instructions for how to manage your atopic dermatitis, from basic skincare to how to respond to flares. Having a written plan can give you confidence that you’re following your doctor’s instructions and are prepared to respond to any changes in your condition.

Emotional support matters too11,22

Atopic dermatitis can have a significant effect on your quality of life. Although action plans traditionally focus on your medical treatment alone, incorporating emotional support into your plan may help you better cope with the stress of living with a chronic disease. Because your needs may change based on how things are going, having a variety of options to choose from can be helpful.

In the activity that follows, select the different stages of atopic dermatitis to reveal strategies that may help you incorporate emotional support into your atopic dermatitis management routine.

Consider the resources

Here are some suggested strategies to help you address the emotional impact of atopic dermatitis. Select a symptom severity below.

When symptoms are..

What to do

Try mindful breathing to help you cope with worrying about future flares23

Take time to be mindful of the world around you23

Focus on developing healthy habits, like maintaining your skin-care routine

Even without a visible rash, the inflammation still exists beneath the surface.5 It’s important to maintain your daily skin-care routine.1 Consider talking with your doctor about the effect atopic dermatitis has on your life, even when you aren’t having a flare.

What to do

Practice guided meditation exercises to help you cope with discomfort23

Watch videos to distract your mind from the pain and itch24

Use distraction techniques like rubbing a worry stone or read a book

At the first visible sign of a flare-up, try to focus on ways to minimize the extent of the flare. This may be a good time to focus on managing stress, which can also trigger flares.

What to do

Learn about techniques to get better sleep, like cutting out your afternoon coffee

Focus on self-compassion to combat negative thoughts.16,17

Develop different distraction techniques to help you resist scratching24

When your symptoms are severe, the primary focus is finding relief. A serious flare can be incredibly disruptive to your life, so remember to be kind to yourself.