Young people wanted healthcare professionals they had seen about eczema to have reliable knowledge and give effective treatments, to be respectful and have good ‘bedside manner’.
Some young people had GPs and/or dermatologists/specialist nurses who they trusted and found really supportive and friendly. One thing they stressed is that doctors should give information that is easy to understand to the young person with eczema (not just their parents/guardians).
Some young women, like Katie-Lauren and Naomi, said they prefer seeing female healthcare professionals as they feel more comfortable talking to them or having their skin examined. Others, like Vicky and Jessica, were less concerned and saw the examinations of eczema as just part of a doctor’s job.
Not everyone had positive experiences with the doctors, nurses or pharmacists they had seen. Feeling dismissed or patronised knocks a person’s confidence and makes them doubt whether the health professionals have their best interests at heart. Repeatedly being told to moisturise and not to scratch their skin was unhelpful advice for people who had coped with eczema for a long time. Vicky felt like the dermatologist was ‘nagging’ her and didn’t trust that she had been using the prescribed creams.
Being both ‘independent’ and ‘supported’
Parents had often first taken the young person with eczema to see a GP. As they got older, some people wanted to be more ‘independent’ and go to appointments alone. Laura says it was when she moved from home to university that seeing doctors about her eczema went from ‘we’ to ‘just me’. However, some people found it helpful to continue having a family member or close friend involved. Even if the parent didn’t sit in on the appointment, sometimes they gave advice about what to say to the doctor. Jessica’s mum helped her get appointments and paid for private dermatology care.
Another change over time for some young people was feeling more confident to speak up about what they had like for their eczema treatment or to ask questions.
Aisha says that the doctor telling you about a plan/pathway for treatment can offer ‘structure’ instead of feeling like you’re being given cream after cream (emollients and steroids). Having a choice of treatment types and brands was valued. Ele would like more of a role in deciding treatments rather than her doctors’ ‘like it or lump it’ attitude. Hazel likes that her doctors are ‘very aware that a lot of people might need to use alternative things and sort of change it around rather than just stick with the same thing’. Laura is interested in trying homeopathy (a kind of alternative and complementary therapy) and wants to talk to her GP about this.
Some young people feel they now take the lead on treatment decisions, rather than following doctor instructions. Aadam says he is very informed about his eczema and now only sees his GP to get prescriptions filled out. Others don’t feel equipped to make decisions on their own about their eczema and could feel let down by their doctors’ lack of support.