Welcome to the talking to health professionals section!
This section will look at:
- When should I see a health professional about my eczema?
- When do I need to see a skin specialist for my eczema?
- How can I get the most out of my appointments with the doctor or nurse?
- Common concerns about talking to your doctor or nurse
- How can a pharmacist help?
- Getting repeat prescriptions
When should I see a health professional about my eczema?
With all the information on this website, you will know a lot about how to get control and keep control of your eczema. But there may still be times when you need extra help.
You may need to see your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if:
- You are worried about your eczema.
- You have a rash that doesn’t look like eczema.
- You have been trying a new treatment and it doesn't seem to be helping after using it as directed for at least a week
You may also want to see your doctor or nurse if:
- You are unsure how to use any of your treatments. It may also help to try our sections on ‘ moisturising creams ’ and ‘ flare control creams ’ from the menu above. Your pharmacist may also be able to advise you if you have questions about eczema treatments.
- Your eczema is crusty or weepy. If this happens, your eczema might be infected.
What does infected skin look like?
Infected eczema will be more sore than usual. In lighter skin, infected eczema may look more red than usual. In darker skin, it may look more grey, purple, or brown than usual.
The skin may also start to weep and form yellow crusts. Sometimes you can see white or yellow blisters, or pus-spots under the skin.
You should see your doctor if:
- the redness or changes in your skin are spreading
- the infection is painful
- you have a fever or are unwell.
You should see your doctor the same day if:
- You start getting lots of blisters on your skin, like a cold sore spreading really quickly . If this happens, you should see your doctor or go to the hospital the same day. Click on the box below to find out more about what these blisters are and what they look like.
What are these blisters and what do they look like?
These blisters may be a sign of a potentially serious condition called Eczema herpeticum. This condition is caused by the cold sore virus. People with eczema may get perfectly normal cold sores. But sometimes the cold sore virus can infect large areas of the skin.
You may have this condition if you have:
- a high temperature
- lots of blisters that spread quickly across the skin.
There are other conditions that cause blistering that are not serious. But it can be difficult to tell the difference. So, see your GP or go to the hospital the same day if you are in any doubt.
When do I need to see a skin specialist for my eczema?
Most people with eczema are seen by their GP or another health professional at their GP practice. GP practices deal with a lot of eczema. Usually, you will not need to see a specialist. But you may need to if your eczema is causing a lot of problems.
Skin specialists will normally be a dermatologist, dermatology nurse, or GP with a special interest in dermatology.
You may want to go back to your GP if you feel your eczema is causing real problems for you. In many practices, you can ask to see a different doctor within your practice if you prefer.
Usually you will have to go through your GP practice to see a specialist, even if you wish to see a private specialist.
I waited a long time to see the dermatologist and by then the eczema was actually fine. He told me the treatments the GP had given us were obviously working and to just carry on.
Will my GP send me to a skin specialist?
Your GP will usually send you to a skin specialist if:
- They are not 100% sure that your skin condition is eczema.
- You are using moisturising and flare control creams, but your eczema is not getting better. Usually, this is if you are having bad reactions to many different moisturisers.
The receptionist told me that one of the GPs in my practice has a special interest in skin problems so now I always try to see her when I want to talk about the eczema.
How can I get the most out of my appointments with my doctor or nurse?
There is a lot of information that people with eczema need. You will usually only have 10 minutes with your doctor, which can feel too short.
This website can help you get the most important information about eczema. You can then use your appointments with your doctor or nurse to focus on the specific problems you are having.
The eczema seemed like a little thing. So, I used to just ask about it when I was seeing the doctor about something else. But I think that’s why she seemed rushed and uninterested. Now I make an appointment just to discuss the eczema.
We have created a treatment record. It might help you talk to your doctor or nurse about your treatments. You can fill it in and take it with you next time you see your doctor or nurse. You can also ask your doctor or nurse to help you fill it in if there is anything you are unsure about.
- It can help if you go with a clear idea of what you are hoping to get from the appointment. Write down 2 or 3 most important questions before you go.
- Bring the treatments you use with you or a list or photo of them – your doctor may ask you about this.
- Many GP practices will let you can book a double appointment with your GP if you feel you have a lot to discuss. You can also go back to your GP if you need more advice or treatments.
- Don’t be afraid to ask if there is anything you don’t understand. For example, ‘Can you say that again? I still don’t understand’ or ‘Can I just check I understood what you said?’
- Don’t be afraid to ask about next steps. For example, ‘How long will this take to work?’ or ‘When should I come back?’
- Let the doctor know if you have any worries about your treatments – there are lots of different eczema treatments you can try. It’s important to find a treatment that works for you.
- Make notes - Ask the doctor or nurse to write down the key points they said, take notes yourself, or ask a family member or friend to take notes for you. This makes it easier to remember what you need to do next.
- If your eczema is really bothering you, tell the doctor or nurse – it can be hard for them to understand how much your eczema is affecting you in a short appointment.
Common concerns about talking to health professionals
Click on the boxes below to find out the answers to some common concerns about moisturising creams:
I always get nervous when I talk to my doctor or nurse
Many people get nervous when seeing the doctor or nurse. Preparing before you go can help you feel more confident. Here are some tips on talking to your doctor or nurse that you may find useful:
- Arrive in plenty of time for your appointment. This will let you sit for a few minutes before you go in to calm yourself and think about what you want to say.
- It can be difficult to make decisions about your health on the spot. It’s ok if you need more time to think things through and come back another time.
- It’s not all about your skin and treatments – you can also talk to your doctor or nurse about how eczema is making you feel and how it might be affecting your everyday life.
- When you make your appointment, ask to see a doctor who is the same gender as you if this would make you feel more comfortable. If there is a doctor who you find easier to talk to then you can ask the receptionist if you can see them. You can also ask the receptionist if any of the doctors or other health professionals are particularly interested in eczema.
- You can see the doctor or nurse by yourself if you want to. You don’t have to have a family member or friend there. But, you may find it helpful to have them there for support and to help you remember what the doctor or nurse said.
The treatments the doctor or nurse gives me don’t work!
It can take some time to find the right treatments for you. This is because different creams suit different people. You might find that you have to try a couple of different creams before you find one that helps.
Some people with eczema find this process frustrating. It can be easy to feel like nothing your doctor or nurse gives you is working. But it's worth sticking with it - these creams are the best way of getting and keeping control of your eczema.
You may want to try the ‘2 week challenge’ from the menu at the top of the page.
My doctor wouldn’t give me the cream I wanted – why?
You can ask your doctor for different creams, but they may not always be able to give you the exact one you want. This is because doctors have a list of creams that they can give their patients.
If the cream you want is not on this list, then they are usually not able to give it to you. Chances are they’ll be able to give you a very similar one.
If you are not happy with this similar cream, you may be able to buy the cream at the pharmacist or online.
What about advice from pharmacists?
Pharmacists are trained experts in the use of medicines. This includes creams and ointments for eczema. They can:
- give advice about how to use treatments
- sell some treatment creams without a prescription from a doctor or nurse
- give advice and information about sun creams, cosmetics, and wash products
- give advice about eczema and dry skin.
You can go to the ‘eczema and money’ section to find out more about getting help for paying for your prescriptions. You can get to this section from the ‘living well with eczema’ menu above.
How do I make sure I don't run out of my treatments?
Using moisturising creams every day can help keep control of your eczema. So, it’s important to get more creams from your doctor or nurse in good time before you run out.
You can ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacists for big 500g/ml tubs of moisturising creams. This would reduce the amount of times you have to order new treatment.
If you have used flare control creams before, then it may be good to keep some of this in the house. This will let you deal with flare-ups early.
I tend to order a repeat prescription when I have half of the treatment left.
How to get repeat prescriptions?
A prescription is written by your doctor. It tells the pharmacist what treatments you need. You need to take this prescription to a pharmacist to pick up your treatments. Or your doctor can send it electronically.
You may find it helpful to set up repeat prescriptions. A repeat prescription lets you have a prescription for your treatments without seeing a doctor or nurse.
Ask the receptionist, GP, or pharmacist how repeat prescriptions work at your GP surgery if you are unsure
My practice takes 48 hours to get a repeat prescription. So, I put the form in when the last tub is half empty. You get used to thinking ahead. Although I did get caught out on holiday not long ago and had to buy some from the pharmacy.