Discovering that you have atopic dermatitis (AD) can be overwhelming. There’s a lot to learn about this skin condition and a lot to process. And if you self-diagnosed your own eczema, you may have read some conflicting information online about the causes of AD.

Taking the initiative to schedule an appointment with your doctor or dermatologist is a great next step. A doctor can correctly diagnose you and help you sort fact from fiction. But sometimes when you’re busy and confused, it’s easy to slip in and out of the doctor’s office without asking any questions.

What should I do before my appointment?

Every person with AD is different. You have the right to ask your doctor any questions about your AD.

A good doctor should be able to offer more than just a prescription. Your doctor should listen to all your concerns and provide you with some helpful resources.

Preparing for your appointment beforehand can help make sure that all of your needs are addressed. Write down your questions and keep a list of the medications you’re currently taking. Bring a notepad to write on if you’re concerned about forgetting important instructions.

What should I ask?

The following sample questions should give you a good idea of where to start. You might not need the answers to all of these questions or you might have your own personal questions.

Questions about preventative skincare

  • What products are best for my dry, itchy skin?
  • How often do I need to apply them?
  • Lotion and creams burn my skin. How can I moisturize without the stinging?
  • I scratch all night. What products will help?
  • Do I need to buy products that are specifically for eczema?
  • My skin is scaly and thick now. What products will treat that?
  • My skin is bleeding from scratching. Is there an over-the-counter product that I can use?

Questions about prescription medication

  • What kind of topical treatment options are there?
  • How often should I apply my topical medicine?
  • Should I only use medicine during a flare-up?
  • Should I stop taking this medicine after a certain amount of time?
  • When can I expect to see results?
  • Are there any side effects to my medication? At what point should I call you or your office if I experience side effects?
  • Can I use these products while pregnant or breastfeeding?
  • Are there any alternative or complementary therapies that I can try instead of prescription medication?

Questions about related conditions

  • I suffer from asthma and seasonal allergies. Are these causing my AD?
  • Is AD the same as eczema?
  • Is AD the same as psoriasis?
  • I have food allergies. Are those causing my AD?
  • My rash has started weeping. Will I get an infection?

Questions about lifestyle

  • Does diet make my symptoms worse?
  • Should I try an elimination diet?
  • I’m embarrassed about how I look. Who can I talk to?
  • My skin itches when I exercise. Do I need to stop exercising?
  • When I’m stressed I feel itchy and start to scratch. What can I do to relax?
  • Do you recommend any vitamins or supplements?
  • Do you know the best cleaning products, detergents, and soaps that won’t irritate my skin?
  • How do I explain my AD to other people?


Seeing a new doctor for the first time can be stressful. By preparing in advance, you can be sure that you’ll ask all of the important questions.

Take your time at your appointment. See if your doctor has any recommended reading material that you can take home. Your doctor may even be able to refer you to a local support group for AD or other skin conditions.