Getting the Most From Healthcare Appointments

Good communication with your doctor is one of the most important ways you can take an active role in managing your atopic dermatitis.

Remember, your doctor is an expert on medical care and you are the expert on yourself. By sharing your unique experience, you and your doctor can work together to make the best decisions for your care. You’ll feel more in control of your atopic dermatitis, plus good communication can actually have a positive effect on your health.

Other tips that may help

  • Be open and honest. You may feel uncomfortable at first, but without the full story, your doctor is working at a disadvantage.
  • Tracking can help. Between appointments, record the number and severity of your flare-ups and any possible triggers.
  • Plan to share. Take time to consider how atopic dermatitis is affecting your quality of life and plan to share this information with your doctor.
  • Prepare for appointments. Before you go, decide what you want to discuss. Jot down any questions you have and gather any information you may want to share.
  • Ask again, if necessary. If you don’t understand your doctor’s explanation or are unclear about what the next steps are, ask. Unless you speak up, your doctor won’t know there’s a problem.

Plan ahead

This activity is designed to help you start thinking about things you may want to discuss with your doctor. Each of the following topics includes suggested information to share with your doctor and examples of questions you may want to ask. Explore each topic to get a better idea of what you may want to discuss at your next appointment.


Being well-informed, understanding the symptoms of atopic dermatitis and their possible causes, and developing a partnership with your healthcare team all contribute to improving your overall quality of life.

What to share
  • Health goals
  • Anything new you've tried since your last visit
  • Frequency and severity of your flare-ups and their effect on your daily life
What to ask
  • What causes atopic dermatitis?
  • What else can I do to better manage my atopic dermatitis?
  • What can I do to help prevent skin infections?

Some of the effects of atopic dermatitis may impact multiple areas of your life.

What to share
  • The symptoms that are currently bothering you
  • How often they occur
  • How you manage symptoms now
  • Any recent changes in your symptoms
What to ask
  • How have other patients dealt with the emotional aspect of living with atopic dermatitis?
  • What changes to my environment might help?
  • Is my current skin-care routine the best option for me?

Atopic dermatitis has a high impact on patients' quality of life.

What to share
  • If your atopic dermatitis is making you feel down or blue
  • Specific examples of how your life is affected by atopic dermatitis
  • Any steps you’re taking to manage the impact of atopic dermatitis on your life
What to ask
  • What are some local resources like support groups I could participate in?
  • Are my feelings common among people with atopic dermatitis?
  • What could I change to help me better manage my atopic dermatitis?

The Benefits of Having an Action Plan

Another important part of self-managing your atopic dermatitis is understanding what to do and when to do it.

That's why having an action plan can be helpful. An action plan is a personalized document created with your healthcare team. The plan outlines your doctor’s instructions for how to manage your atopic dermatitis, from basic skin care to how to respond to flares. Having a written plan can give you confidence that you’re following your doctor's instructions and are prepared to respond to any changes in your condition. At the completion of this activity, you’ll have the opportunity to download an action plan that you can take to your next appointment and complete with your doctor.

Emotional support matters too

Atopic dermatitis can have a significant effect on your quality of life. Although action plans traditionally focus on your medical treatment alone, incorporating emotional support into your plan may help you better cope with the stress of living with a chronic disease. Because your needs may change based on how things are going, having a variety of options to choose from can be helpful.

In the activity that follows, select the different stages of atopic dermatitis to reveal strategies that may help you incorporate emotional support into your atopic dermatitis management routine.

Resources to consider

Here are some suggested strategies to help you address the emotional impact of atopic dermatitis. Once you've reviewed them, download the Atopic Dermatitis Action Plan. The coping strategies are already included, but you will need to work with your doctor to complete the rest of the action plan. Select a symptom severity below.

Coping Suggestions

Try mindful breathing to help you cope with worrying about future flares

Take time to be mindful of the world around you

Focus on developing healthy habits, like maintaining your skin-care routine

Even without a visible rash, the inflammation still exists beneath the surface. It’s important to maintain your daily skin-care routine. Consider talking with your doctor about the effect atopic dermatitis has on your life, even when you aren’t having a flare.

Coping Suggestions

Practice guided meditation exercises to help you cope with discomfort

Watch videos to distract your mind from the pain and itch

Use distraction techniques like rubbing a worry stone or read a book

At the first visible sign of a flare-up, try to focus on ways to minimize the extent of the flare. This may be a good time to focus on managing stress, which can also trigger flares.

Coping Suggestions

Learn about techniques to get better sleep, like cutting out your afternoon coffee

Focus on self-compassion to combat negative thoughts

Develop different distraction techniques to help you resist scratching

When your symptoms are severe, the primary focus is finding relief. A serious flare can be incredibly disruptive to your life, so remember to be kind to yourself.