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Your Eczema Health Care Team

Medically Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on April 06, 2021

When you have eczema -- also known as atopic dermatitis -- it can be a lot more than just an itchy rash. That’s why it helps to have a team filled with health care experts.

Here’s a look at who can help you diagnose and treat your condition.

Primary Care Doctor

They'll likely be your first stop when you start having typical eczema symptoms like dry, itchy skin with red patches or bumps. You might also see a physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner in the office. They might diagnose your eczema, start basic treatments, and refer you to a dermatologist for diagnosis and treatment.

Pediatrician

If you’re worried that your baby or child has eczema, you’ll start with their doctor. Atopic dermatitis often affects babies or very young kids. In fact, it's the most common lasting skin disorder in children. A pediatrician can diagnose and treat your child, or, if necessary, refer you to a specialist like a pediatric dermatologist or pediatric allergist.

Dermatologist

Dermatologists specialize in treating all sorts of skin issues, including eczema. Usually to diagnose eczema, they'll just need to examine you and ask you about your symptoms. But in some cases, they may need to take a small sample of your skin, called a biopsy, and examine it.

Your dermatologist’s treatment plan will focus on cutting down on flare-ups and easing symptoms like itching and pain. It'll also keep your eczema from getting worse. In some cases, a dermatologist may refer you to other specialists.

Allergist

Allergists or immunologists can do testing to help find allergens that might be triggering your eczema. You might have something called a scratch test. They'll prick your skin with things you might be allergic to like pollen, mold, dust mites, and food to see if you get a raised, itchy bump. If allergies trigger your eczema, an allergist can help treat your allergies and help stop your eczema flare-ups.

Pharmacist

Your treatment plan will probably include creams to calm itching and heal skin. You might also need pills to help fight infection and ease inflammation. Moisturizers and anti-itch creams might be useful, too. Your pharmacist can help make sure all the medicines you need work together. They can also help you choose over-the-counter products to help with your symptoms.

Nutritionist

Food allergies can play a role in skin issues, so you might meet with a dietitian or nutritionist to learn how to avoid any foods that trigger your symptoms. They can also make sure that you're eating a healthy, well-rounded diet.

Sleep Expert

The itching and pain of eczema can keep you up at night. A sleep expert (often a neurologist) can diagnose eczema-related sleep problems like fatigue, insomnia, sleepiness, and obstructive sleep apnea so you can rest better at night.

Therapist

Having a chronic condition like eczema can be stressful. It can affect your self-esteem and lead to anxiety and depression. A mental health expert can help you deal with those challenges. You can learn ways to deal with stress and self-esteem issues and even how to distract yourself when you have an urge to scratch your itchy skin. A therapist can also give you tips on how to relax at night so you can sleep better.

Show Sources

SOURCES:

National Eczema Association: “Squad Goals: Build Your Own Eczema Care Team.”

Boston Children’s Hospital: “Atopic Dermatitis and Eczema.”

Mayo Clinic: “Atopic dermatitis (eczema),” “Allergy skin tests.”

Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: “Multidisciplinary interventions in the management of atopic dermatitis.”

NHS: “Atopic Eczema: Treatment.”

Northwestern Medicine: “Eczema Specialists and Care Centers.”

American Academy of Dermatology Association: “Eczema Types: Atopic Dermatitis Diagnosis and Treatment.”

NYU Langone Health: “Eczema & Dermatitis.”

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