I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Pfizer, Inc. to write about the signs, symptoms, and treatments available for eczema/atopic dermatitis in communities of color. All opinions are my own.
I have to be very careful with my skin.
Over many years, I realized that my skin wasn’t like everyone else’s. I’ve shared what it was like to grow up with atopic dermatitis, and how we recognized it in our kids.
But, when it comes to treatment, I’ve had to be very intentional about talking to my doctor and what my skincare routine needs to look like.
With darker skin, Eczema tends to look different from what you may see on TV or online, so I keep that in mind when reviewing my skincare routine.
Basic Atopic Dermatitis Skincare Routine
The biggest thing I remember when taking care of my skin is avoidance.
Atopic Dermatitis can flare up due to certain irritants. Pay close attention to what you eat (or your stress level) whenever you have flares.
My friend Jeannette Kaplun from Hispana Global did a Facebook Live interview with Dr. Alexis to learn valuable information on treating eczema in skin of color.
In the interview, they shared the latest treatment options, and how best to utilize telemedicine to access skincare professionals. Here’s the link to the full interview.
Here are some tips that stood out to me:
- Basic skincare:
- The first step on the treatment ladder is a gentle skincare regimen using mild, oil-based soaps and cleansers, preservative-free, and moisturize the skin
- Identifying and avoiding possible irritants and allergens that can trigger or aggravate disease flares is important but also challenging and may require assistance from a healthcare provider.
- Topical therapies (mild or moderate atopic dermatitis):
- The next step on the treatment ladder is often short-term use of topical corticosteroids as long-term use is not recommended due to an increased risk of side effects
- Corticosteroid-sparing therapies are also available if basic management strategies do not provide relief; these can be used longer term and are recommended for sensitive body sites such as the face or diaper area. These include crisaborole (Eucrisa®), topical calcineurin inhibitors such as tacrolimus ointment (Protopic®) and pimecrolimus cream (Elidel®), and generic options.
Taking Better Care For Severe Atopic Dermatitis
During certain times of the year, my atopic dermatitis can be frustrating. Weather is an irritant for me, so when things get severe, I look for advice from my doctor.
The advice I get year after year is to increase treatment. Moving up the treatment ladder may be necessary for patients with more severe atopic dermatitis.
- Systemic therapies (moderate to severe atopic dermatitis):
- Nonspecific immunosuppressants such as systemic corticosteroids and other immunosuppressing therapies may be prescribed; however, their use may be limited due to side effects, potential for rebound flares, or the need for laboratory work.
- New systemic agents are emerging that target the underlying causes of atopic dermatitis, including the factors that cause itch and inflammation.
- Systemic therapies may also be augmented by topical medications.
- Because atopic dermatitis is a chronic condition, a formal written plan or “Eczema Action Plan” can help patients follow their recommended management plan.
- Seeking care:
- If treatments are not working despite following the management plan, a treatment change may be needed; it is important to seek care from a skincare provider
How Telemedicine has made Treatment Easier During COVID-19
As an African American with eczema, it’s already been difficult over the years to find physicians to give great advice for my skincare treatment.
With stay-at-home orders, social distancing, and all we’ve had to endure over the past year, telemedicine has been the saving grace to keeping up with doctor’s appointments.
If you haven’t used telemedicine to get advice and seek treatment for your atopic dermatitis, it’s quite simple. Here are some tips to use before your next appointment.
- For patients of color, eczema can lead to light or dark color spots, or hypopigmentation. By continuing their treatment plan, and not allowing for disruptions in care due to the pandemic, patients can maintain better control of their disease, minimize the hypopigmentation, and reduce the risk of flares.
- Telemedicine is an effective, alternative way to ensure easy and timely visits,
- To optimize a telemedicine visit, follow these tips:
- Before making an appointment, check with your insurance provider to make sure telemedicine visits are covered.
- Take photos of the condition before the visit and send the images to the doctor in advance because high-resolution images are better quality than video.
- Collect any medicines in advance of the appointment and have them nearby.
- Come prepared to discuss any family history of allergies and asthma.
- Find a quiet area and make sure there is internet access.
- Because lighting is very important for dermatology visits, patients should place the light in front of them and face the window; windows should not be behind them.
- Patients should know their cleansing and moisturizing routines.
Resources To Learn More About Atopic Dermatitis Treatment
I’m all about finding the right information when it comes to your health, even with skincare.
Below are some links to help you learn more about atopic dermatitis, treatment, and how to use telemedicine to stay on top of your check-ins with physicians.
Links to external sites are provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only. They are not intended and should not be construed as legal or medical advice, nor are they endorsements of any organization. Med-IQ bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality, or content of any external site. Contact the external site for answers to questions regarding its content.
- National Eczema Association
- Eczema treatments: https://nationaleczema.org/eczema/treatment/
- Eczema in skin of color: https://nationaleczema.org/eczema-in-skin-of-color/
- Telemedicine and Teledermatology
- Preparing for a telemedicine visit:
- Photographing your skin for a teledermatology appointment:
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Med-IQ is conducting an anonymous survey and would appreciate your input. The survey will take less than 10 minutes to complete. Survey responses are shared only in aggregate. Your responses to these survey questions will provide Med-IQ with important information about your experiences with atopic dermatitis, which will help us develop future educational initiatives. Once you’ve completed the survey, you will have the option of providing your email address to be entered into a drawing administered by SOMA Strategies to win 1 of 10 $100 VISA gift cards. If you choose to enter, your email address will be used only to randomly draw the winners and notify them of their prize and to send a follow-up survey as part of this same initiative.