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For Patients with Atopic Dermatitis

The Dermatology Department of Hokkaido University Hospital launched an educational hospitalization program for patients with atopic dermatitis in March 2003 (Japanese Journal of Dermatology. 2003; 113: 1415-1421). Thirty patients between the ages of 9 and 35 years were accepted into the program in 2005. In the program, the patient stays in the hospital for about one or two weeks. Nurses give instructions on proper bathing and other lifestyle practices, and on how to apply ointment. The patient showers twice each day, once in the morning and again in the late afternoon, and practices applying ointment under the guidance of a doctor or nurse. After seeing improvement in the condition of the skin, the patient and his or her parents attend lectures on atopic dermatitis (30 minutes to one hour per day). The doctor gives lectures using PowerPoint presentations on dermatitis, guidance on lifestyle habits, and types of ointments and their uses.

Despite the decrease in cases of patients hospitalized for atopic dermatitis, there are those whose condition has become uncontrollable as the result of improper treatment by the “atopy industry.” After taking sufficient time to talk with such patients, we often find that they misunderstand the nature of the disorder or are confused by the “opinions” of those around them. In our program the patients experience improvement through proper care, including proper application of ointment. The medical staff who conduct this program take the time to develop good communication with the patients, which isn’t always easy in a busy outpatient clinic. I consider this a well-devised program that is beneficial for patients and medical staff alike.

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