Do you end up frustrated and confused by all-too-brief GP appointments? Are you finding that your skin just isn’t getting better with the emollients or topical steroids you’ve been prescribed so far?
If so, we’ve got 7 important questions to ask your GP, so you can really get to grips with managing your condition.
1. What’s The Right Emollient For Me?
NHS guidelines state that “the best emollient is the one you feel happy using every day”, so make sure you like yours and will use it several times a day! You may prefer an ointment at night, an oil after bathing and a lighter cream during the day, or find your skin reacts to ingredients in some emollients and not others. Ask for emollients that suit your own particular skin and your own particular daily routine. (You can request Skin Salvation on prescription.*)
2. Could My Eczema Be Triggered By Allergies?
If you suspect your eczema is caused or made worse by an allergy or sensitivity to something (ie milk, pollen, house dust mites, ingredients in toiletries, nickel in jewellery, latex etc.), you can ask your GP to be referred for tests.
If you or your child’s eczema is triggered by food, you can also request a referral to a dietician who can help you plan a healthy diet.
3. Why Isn’t My Eczema Getting Better?
If your eczema continues to worsen after an initial course of treatment or is badly affecting your daily life, then you can ask for a referral to a dermatologist, a skin specialist, who can discuss treatments (such as UV therapy) and make a management plan tailored to your specific needs.
The best emollient is the one you feel happy using every day, so make sure you like yours and will want to use it several times a day.
4. Who Can Help Me Cope With The Stress?
The stress and upset of having to battle eczema day in, day out, can really take its toll on your wellbeing. If you feel that you or your child’s quality of life is being severely affected by eczema, you can request a referral for psychological advice and support.
5. Is My Eczema Infected?
Sometimes it can be hard to tell if the itching and redness is due to the eczema itself or a secondary infection, such as staphylococcus, which will need to be treated with antibiotics. GPs can identify and confirm infections with swabs if your eczema is getting worse rather than better.
6. Am I Using Steroids In The Right Way?
Many people are understandably wary of possible side-effects of topical steroids; if you’re using steroids do make sure that your GP gives you very precise instructions about how to apply them. Topical steroids should only be used briefly to calm down acute flare-ups; it’s important to use them at the appropriate dose, duration and strength, on appropriate areas of the body and applied in appropriate ways! It can be confusing working out what strength you’ve been given and exactly how much to use, so if you’re unsure about anything ask your GP or pharmacist to explain.
7. What Else Is Available on Prescription To Help Me Manage My Eczema?
Did you know that GPs can prescribe items other than emollients and steroids to help you manage your or your child’s eczema?
These currently include: wet wrap/tubular bandages; silk or specially made synthetic clothing such as sleepwear or underwear; bath emollients.
*Getting Skin Salvation on Prescription
We are very pleased to say that many of our customers get their Skin Salvation on prescription. This is possible where GPs or dermatologists can see that there is clear benefit in their patients using the products and are happy to prescribe them as part of an ongoing treatment regime.
Doctors are permitted to prescribe any product that benefits their patients even if it is not on their standard list of prescribed items, so long as the products concerned do not appear on the “drugs and other substances not to be prescribed under the NHS Pharmaceutical Services” list, which our products do not. S/he can handwrite a FP10 form for the product and that can be handed in to any pharmacy.
However, the prescribing of any product is entirely down to the doctor’s discretion; there may be financial considerations within the practice or Health Care Trust that prevent them being able to prescribe anything more expensive than usual emollients.
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.