Young people visited medical professionals for a range of things, like:
- Getting a diagnosis of eczema
- Treatment for eczema on a particular part of the body like the scalp or genitals
- Advice and treatment for eczema which develops an infection
- To get treatments like emollients, steroids or phototherapy and advice about how to use them
- Information about alternative and complementary therapies (e.g. homeopathy)
- An allergy test, to find out about triggers to avoid or for lifestyle advice (e.g. diet and sleep)
- Check-ups – e.g. to see if treatments are working or have side effects
- A referral – for example, a GP (General Practitioner – doctor) can ‘refer’ to a dermatologist (skin specialist doctor)
- Mental health help for dealing with the emotional and psychological side of eczema
- A ‘fit note’ (or a ‘sick note’) for time off or other special arrangements with your work, school or university, such as getting extra time in exams.
The main sources of medical professional help used by the young people we spoke to were:
- GPs and GP-clinic nurses
- Dermatologists and dermatology nurses (healthcare professionals specialising in skin)
Some young people saw just one kind of medical professional for their eczema. Alice’s eczema has always been treated by GPs. Other people have seen different types of medical professionals about their eczema and compared experiences between them. Pharmacists helped Laura find a weak steroid to buy over-the-counter (without a doctor’s prescription), but she says that GPs can give stronger steroid treatment. She adds that ‘it’s even better if you could be referred and speak to a dermatologist’. Himesh prefers seeing dermatology nurses and finds there’s usually less of a wait to see them than for dermatology doctors.
Most people hadn’t talked to pharmacists about managing eczema, but a couple found it helpful. Sometimes other healthcare professionals helped with eczema, even though the person was seeing them for other reasons.