Eczema is a skin condition characterized by itching and inflammation of the skin. It is a common condition which is also called atopic dermatitis.
It can occur at any age, but it is common in babies and young children. There are different types of eczema, and various skin conditions can mimic eczema. Appropriate diagnosis is therefore important to receive effective treatment.
A dermatologist can help provide an expert diagnosis and treatment advice. They can also prescribe any medicine you may need.
A dermatologist is a doctor who focuses on conditions that affect the skin, hair, and nails. They see patients of all ages, treat over 3,000 different conditions, and many specialize in treating specific conditions like cancer and groups of patients like people of color.
A pediatric dermatologist has specialized training in treating children with conditions affecting their skin, hair or nails.
There are three boards that offer dermatology certification in North America:
- American Board of Dermatology
- American Board of Dermatology Osteopathy
- Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
To be certified, a dermatologist must pass an exam of any of these tips to test their medical knowledge and expertise.
After board certification, a dermatologist can choose to become a member of the American Academy of Dermatology, the largest organization of dermatologists in the United States. A dermatologist who is a member will have âFAADâ after their name.
There are different types of eczema and atopic dermatitis that can be difficult to tell apart.
Because a dermatologist specializes in skin conditions, he or she can provide specific help for eczema with diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care. Some dermatologists may have atopic dermatitis clinics, but all dermatologists are qualified to treat eczema.
Diagnostic tools include:
First, a dermatologist will examine your skin and take a close look at the affected areas. A dermatologist can often identify the condition of your skin during this exam.
At your first appointment, you will be asked questions about your medical and family history. This can help your dermatologist diagnose your condition even if you don’t have a flare-up or rash when you visit.
These questions can include things like:
- Do you have an immediate family member with eczema, allergies or asthma?
- Can you describe your symptoms?
- When do these symptoms seem to occur the most?
- How long have you had this rash or skin condition?
- Where does the rash or condition appear on your body?
Patch test (for allergic dermatitis)
In a patch test, various suspected allergens are stuck on the skin to see if there is a reaction. A dermatologist can test for several potential allergens at the same time.
During a skin biopsy, the dermatologist numbs the area and then removes a very small piece of skin in the affected area. The sample will be sent to a dermatology laboratory for analysis. A skin biopsy can be used to help diagnose eczema caused by allergies or as a reaction to a medication.
The management of eczema includes several treatment options, including:
- identify and avoid your eczema triggers
- develop a consistent bathing and hydration routine
- using over-the-counter and / or prescription medications
- monitoring for signs of infection
A dermatologist can provide you with suggestions on soaps and moisturizers, as well as advice on over-the-counter topical creams. If a prescription is needed, they will prescribe the most appropriate medications for you and your specific type of eczema. If your skin is infected, they can examine the infection and treat it accordingly.
Medicines that can be used to treat eczema include:
- Topicals. Ointments, creams or lotions are all considered topical and may contain ingredients like steroids to help relieve symptoms and reduce eczema flare-ups.
- Oral medications. Corticosteroids, antihistamines, anti-inflammatory drugs, and antibiotics are oral medications that can be used to treat eczema.
- Injectables. Some people may be prescribed biologics or biologics to treat eczema. Biologics are genetically modified injectables that are made by or contain components of living organisms that help prevent or stop the inflammatory response that causes eczema.
- Phototherapy. During light therapy, various types of ultraviolet light are used to help stop eczema that covers large areas of the body. Light therapy can help stop itching and inflammation.
There is no cure for eczema, but it can be treated and managed. You may experience flare-ups from time to time. Your dermatologist can help you determine any changes in treatment plan or medication.
Read this for more information on treating severe eczema.
When choosing a dermatologist, it is important to find an expert on your condition and skin type. Tips for finding a good dermatologist include asking questions such as:
- Are you board certified in dermatology?
- Do you have experience in the treatment of eczema?
- Do you have experience dealing with people of color?
- Do you have experience in treating eczema in children?
- Do you take my insurance?
Here are some resources to help you find a dermatologist:
Read this article for more information on how to find the right dermatologist for you and your family.
If you have eczema, a dermatologist is essential to help you treat and manage it. If your child has eczema or if you are a person of color, a dermatologist can provide specialized care.
Dermatologists can correctly diagnose eczema and prescribe the best treatment for the type you have.