Jennifer Talks to Dr.B – Top Tips for Practitioners

As a mother, I have certain expectations when taking my son to see his dermatologist. The dermatologist probably has a completely different set of expectations and rightly so. They spent years in medical school. I’ve spent years being a mother. They spent years dealing with patients of all ages. I’ve spent years watching my son suffer. Most the time I don’t see eye to eye with the dermatologist and I usually walk away with more questions, kicking myself for not asking them and wondering how long it will take for the doctor or nurse to call me back when I leave a message at the office with my additional questions.

Dr. B at Atopic Skin Disease asked for my top tips for practitioners who treat eczema patients. I was thrilled and honored. What an opportunity to speak my mind! I’m really happy with the interview – check it out below. You can find the original posting HERE.


DrB: Hi Jennifer. We have been talking with a Dermatologist, Bill Gould in Palo Alto, USA and a Family Practitioner, Val Doc in London, UK. Bill shared some thoughts on the importance of a practitioner understanding the point of view of a parent or a patient. From your point of view as a parent, what is your first Top Tip for practitioners?

JR: Support is really important! Eczema is stressful for everyone. As mothers, we are often at our wits’ end trying to do everything in our power to help relieve our child’s suffering. We are many times on the verge of tears when we see our children in pain. Just know that we could loose our cool at any point during an appointment. If we do, it would be nice to hear some reassuring words and to have a tissue. We also look for comfort from others going through the same situation. It would be great to be connected to other parents who have children with eczema, so please at least be able to recommend a support group in the area or online.

DrB: To be supported is certainly something we all benefit from when we become distressed. How can the the practitioner show support right from the the beginning of a consultation?

JR: Listen! We may come to an appointment with a very long list of items, either in our heads or on paper, that we want to discuss. Please listen and address each item as concisely as possible. Long roundabout answers will probably go in one ear and out the other, not doing very much good at all.  Please give us your undivided attention and time. We respect you, and expect to feel the same in return.

DrB: Mutual respect will always allow the practitioner-patient relationship to remain positive. What other tips do you have to make things go well?

JR: I would say be open. Sometimes both prescription and over-the-counter treatments work, and sometimes they don’t. We hear a lot about unconventional natural treatments that have worked for many eczema sufferers. If we want to try one, please keep an open mind and don’t disregard our idea because it’s not something you learned in medical school. If it’s truly dangerous, we want to know. Otherwise, please be supportive about our choices. Sometimes conventional and natural medicine work really well together and it’s worth exploring.

DrB: And to have an open mind is a necessity if new effective treatments are to be discovered. Which of the possible causes of childhood eczema do you think need better attention?

JR: Food Triggers. Yes, research shows that a very small percentage of children’s eczema is triggered by food allergies. Perhaps this is because food allergy tests, both skin and blood, aren’t always reliable and display negative results when obvious allergic reactions to said foods have occurred for the child in the past. Regardless, food can be a trigger and an easy one to rule out. Many children can see vast improvements in their skin by simply removing some top foods allergies, such as gluten, from the diet.  So, please don’t say that food isn’t usually a trigger before ruling it out the right way, with a supervised elimination diet.

DrB: Do you have a Top Tip for the practitioner who wants to start a new treatment?

JR: Certainly! Always remember to explain. Whenever you prescribe a treatment, tell us why you think it will work. Why we should try it. And always clearly discuss the side effects and any possible areas of concern, even if you think they are unwarranted. We will do our research when we get home and if there are side effects that aren’t mentioned in the appointment, we may not follow the treatment programme you recommended until we are able to speak to you again, to clarify our findings. These are our children that you are treating, whom we love with all our hearts. We respect and trust you, but we must also listen to our mother’s intuition when things don’t match up as we expect.

DrB: To finish with, how can the practitioner ensure an explanation is optimal?

JR: I have two tips for this: the first is to document. Because too much information can be so overwhelming, it would benefit us greatly if you wrote everything down. Everything. Diagrams, charts, etc., all are good and will help us understand and be able to follow your prescriptions and recommendations for treatment.

And my last tip is demonstrate. Don’t just tell us or write it down for us, show us too. We need real, live demonstrations on how to apply creams, where and how often. Which one goes first? For how long? How many times a day?

DrB: Thank you Jennifer!

FROM: Eczema


  1. chris on December 27, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Well done for putting this so clearly. When you are the parent you want to know simple facts not be bombarded with jargon and negativity if, like you say, you have heard of something new. Just give us the facts simply please

    • Jennifer on December 28, 2011 at 1:52 pm

      Chris, yes, exactly! Have a great holiday!

  2. Susan H. on December 27, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    Love this connection you have with Dr.B! I am on my third dermatologist, third allergist and have maintained the pediatrician. All your points are reasons why I left a doctor or stayed. Our pediatrician has always kept an open mind when I ventured into natural remedies for my son’s eczema. He has happily referred me to all our specialists. Once when I was at my wits end and visited him in tears over my son’s skin…he called up a dermatologist in the building to see me right away! When I discovered the cream, Protopic, I called him up, sent him all the info on it and he called in the prescription to our pharmacy for my son. I always felt he was listening to me…he eventually revealed to me when studies finally proved, what I had been saying for years, that dairy caused eczema. When I visit any one of my son’s doctors, I bring along information on products that I think other parents of children with food allergies, eczema or asthma may benefit from. They have all been very accepting of the information. The bottom line for me is …I want to feel that I am truly being heard…that my feelings, concerns, anxiety are real…I am looking to be a part of a team. Thank you for this opportunity to add my two cents worth! Susan H. @ The Food Allergy Chronicles

    • Jennifer on December 28, 2011 at 1:53 pm

      Susan, you are right! That’s another good thing to add – the team approach is the best approach. Good for you for not settling, but instead searching for the best doctors for your team. Jennifer

  3. Susan H. on December 28, 2011 at 8:13 am

    I just want to thank you for all the great information that provide on your site. You are a dedicated mom and inspire many with your stories and journey. I have presented you with an award on my site, Congradulations! Susan H. @ The Food Allergy Chronicles

    • Jennifer on December 28, 2011 at 1:58 pm

      Oh wow! So cool! I’m so honored and grateful. I’m new to blogging, but I’ve seen the Leibster Award circulating around other blogs. I’m so happy to have received it. Thank you so much for the nomination! I’ll go check this out on your page and figure out how to pay it forward. Thank you so much! This is the best holiday gift I honestly could have asked for. Thanks, Susan!

  4. dryskineraser on January 1, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    I know what you mean by not having your doctor listen to you. I have gone to them for years, one dermatologist after the next, only to find that it seems the waiting room wait is much too long, they seem hurried and are more interested in trying prescription creams, lotions, that cause other allergies. Some even added to the dryness so much in certain areas that it hurt. Call it eczema or whatever. After trying almost everything, I read about the benefits of different natural ingredients and thought I’d try making something myself. I have the belief that nature provides everything that we need for optimal health. After years of visiting dermatologists, paying ridiculous prices for prescriptions that never had any lasting beneficial effects but actually caused other problems, I decided through trial and error to add various oils to purchased lotions. Although this helped much better than my prescription drugs, I still wanted something completely natural. I’d always heard that whatever goes on the skin also enters the body. And as I’ve become older I’ve also become more concerned about what goes into and is placed on my body. This past summer I spent almost every waking hour, researching benefits of each ingredient I’d considered using within my concoction, which is what it was at the time. And we lovingly called it creamy crack only because I couldn’t think of anything else. We took those ingredients, my children and I, and blended, mixed, and tried a lot of different ingredients, different measurements of those ingredients, different heating or not heating of those ingredients as well as cooling methods in order to get the product that we have now. There was also an issue of preservatives, what to add and if we did add would that addition cause our product to still be considered, by our standards, a 100% all natural product. We agreed that 99.5% just wouldn’t cut it. Besides, by then we had put too much time, money and energy into having an “all-natural” product. Although there are products currently on the market labeled as being all natural, once you read the label you run across ingredients that can’t possibly be or shouldn’t be listed as such. My feeling is that if it can’t be pronounced, it shouldn’t be used. Once this was almost perfected and my family could tell a definite difference, I started giving it to friends, neighbors. My youngest daughter made up a survey to give to them as well as we placed our products into tins and gave to others just to try. Later we’d get back in touch with them to get feedback. We needed to know if others felt the same about it as we did. Our feedback was amazing. To shorten my story, this is how the body butter that we now call Dry Skin Eraser was born. Instead of offering the entire product to try, we still offer samples and are attempting to market it to others who suffering from the same issues that my family has had. If you would like to try some or know of others who would look at it on I’m certain you’d be able to tell a difference.

    • Jennifer on January 3, 2012 at 2:33 pm

      Hi – Yes, totally agree about needing to be able to pronounce the ingredients. What are your ingredients? I couldn’t find them on your website. Also, I couldn’t access your product site from your blog.

      • Jennifer on January 4, 2012 at 8:21 pm

        Hi again – No luck. When I go to your blog, there is no way to link over to your product/sales website. Strange. I believe I do have Flash. Good luck! Jennifer

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