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Eczema Center

Eczema Diagnosis

It’s important to diagnose any skin condition so that you can receive proper care and treatment. But who should you see? And what can you expect during diagnosis?

Your primary care doctor may refer your directly to a specialist in skin diseases called a dermatologist. Appointments can be brief, but there's often a lot to cover, so it's a good idea to be well prepared for the appointment. Here's some information to help, and what to expect.

Medical history
Your doctor is also likely to ask you several questions during a medical history. Your doctor will ask about the frequency and severity of the inflammation and how long the symptoms have been present. It can help to record signs and symptoms of the skin condition before you visit the doctor, when they occurred and how long they lasted. Also, it can help to write down any factors that triggered or worsened symptoms, such as soaps or detergents, cigarette smoke, sweating, or long, hot showers. Make a list of all medications, vitamins, herbs and over-the-counter drugs currently being used. A better idea is to take the original bottles with a written list of the dosages and directions. Be prepared to answer questions such as:

  • Do you or any family members have asthma or allergies?
  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
  • When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?

Medical exams
No test exists to diagnose atopic dermatitis (eczema). It's typically diagnosed based on an examination of the skin and a review of your medical history. If in doubt, or the doctor feels further tests are needed, you may be referred to a specialist. Tests may include a skin biopsy, where a small sample of inflamed skin is removed for testing, or patch tests, in which small patches of different substances are stuck to the skin for a few days to see if any cause a reaction.

  • Biopsy
  • Patch tests
  • Physical exam

There is no real cure for atopic eczema because it involves a sensitivity of the sin that will always be present to some degree. However, a number of approaches exist that help to minimize symptoms. To learn more about how doctors and dermatologists treat eczema, continue reading the next section about eczema remedies here.

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