• Telehealth appointments usually work as a video or phone call. They can improve access to dermatology care.
  • Your dermatologist may ask you to send photos of your condition.
  • Telemedicine diagnoses of eczema are usually accurate.

About 1 in 10 U.S. adults have eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis. The condition is manageable for most people. A doctor can help you treat flare-ups and develop a plan to prevent them.

Telehealth is one way to receive timely, convenient medical guidance without going to a doctor’s office. Consider some steps to prepare for your virtual appointment to make the most of your visit.

Telehealth allows you to receive care from a doctor remotely. A telehealth appointment usually happens over a video or phone call.

During a telehealth visit, your dermatologist can collect much of the same information as if they met you in person. You can discuss your symptoms, treatment plan, and eczema management.

Telehealth dermatology often involves sending images of your skin for your doctor to examine. They may ask you to send photos before your visit, or as a follow-up after you’ve started a new treatment plan. You may also send digital images during your visit, such as from your smartphone, using a secure patient portal.

You’ll have the same opportunity to ask questions and seek advice from your doctor as you would during an in-person visit.

Many dermatologists are integrating telehealth into their practices. You can ask your family doctor for a referral to a skin doctor who offers online visits.

If you already have a dermatologist, you can inquire about the possibility of virtual visits. This may make it easier for you to access specialized care for eczema.

Some people may not have access to the internet at home. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends trying a public library or community center. You may not be able to conduct video or phone calls in these public spaces, but there may be a private room you can use.

If a private room is not an option, you may be able to participate in the appointment through a webchat instead of a video or phone call.

Before your first virtual dermatologist visit, you may want to take care of some practical details. For example:

  • Contact your insurer to make sure the visit is covered.
  • Make note of how to reach your doctor for the appointment.
  • Ensure you have the right technology, such as a laptop or tablet.
  • Ask your doctor’s office for the link and password.
  • Plan where you will have the appointment, such as a quiet room or office.
  • Take well-lit digital pictures of areas of skin affected by eczema from all angles.
  • Take a photo of any prescription medications or creams you are using to identify the dosage and type.
  • Avoid irritating your skin before the telehealth visit.

In addition, you may want to make note of important information to discuss during the telehealth visit. These are the same sorts of details you would need for an in-person medical consultation, such as your:

  • personal medical history, including surgeries and prior skin issues
  • family medical history, such as cancer or diabetes among close relatives
  • current medications, vitamins, and natural supplements
  • allergies, including skin sensitivities and medicine interactions
  • current symptoms
  • reason for meeting with a dermatologist

You may also want to make a list of specific questions to ask your doctor, so you can remember what you want to discuss during the conversation.

Before your appointment, your doctor’s office may contact you to fill out certain forms. These may be for insurance or to describe your medical history. The office should tell you in advance whether the visit will be over the phone or a video call.

During the visit, your doctor may contact you directly. In some cases, a medical receptionist or other professional will talk with you first. Once you are connected with your doctor, you can expect the appointment to proceed much like an in-person visit:

  • a review of your medical history
  • questions about your concerns and symptoms
  • review of your eczema, through your video camera or photos
  • questions about any medications you are currently using
  • a discussion of diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up

During the visit, your doctor may also prepare a prescription. Often the prescription can be sent to the pharmacy of your choice.

There are not enough dermatologists in the United States to help people who need specialized care. As a result, many people don’t get the advice they need from a dermatologist. That’s especially true for people who live in rural, remote, or underserved regions.

Telehealth can give more people access to dermatology services. The medical care given through telehealth visits is often of the same quality as you would get with an in-person visit.

Research has found telehealth is particularly beneficial for people with eczema. A 2020 study found that telemedicine allowed for accurate diagnosis of eczema 84.4 percent of the time.

Seventy-two percent of study participants had their atopic dermatitis treated by their primary doctor, while the rest were referred to a dermatologist. Researchers concluded that telehealth gave more people access to rapid and appropriate treatment.

A 2015 study with 156 children and adults with eczema found telehealth was equally effective as in-person dermatologist visits. Researchers found the measure of improvement of eczema over a 12-month period was statistically the same in both groups.

For all of its benefits, telehealth can also come with some barriers.

A 2021 study revealed that some people receiving care had challenges with accessing or using telehealth technology. In addition, doctors sometimes felt they couldn’t get all the information they needed without a direct physical examination.

Although this study was not specific to dermatologists, it highlights some possible downsides of not meeting with your doctor in person.

People with eczema benefit from specialized care. A shortage of dermatologists often means people don’t get the treatment they need. Telehealth is a way of increasing access. It also makes it easier for you to develop a management plan with your doctor.

Although some people experience barriers to technology, there are ways you can get the support you need for quality healthcare.