“It might sound weird but I prefer to see the nurse”: young skin condition patient’s experiences with healthcare professionals

Acne, eczema, psoriasis and alopecia are common skin conditions in young people and yet there are knowledge gaps about the specific experiences of this age group. The present study explores the information and support needs of young people with acne, eczema, psoriasis and alopecia. Qualitative interviews were conducted in England with 88 young people (age 13-24) about their experiences of eczema, acne, psoriasis and alopecia. Participant’s experiences with healthcare professionals about skin conditions were varied, including their understandings about the distinctions between healthcare professionals seen across both primary and secondary care. The young dermatology patients discussed their experiences with, and perceptions of, medical professionals. In relation to nurses specifically, key themes include: the provision of emotional support and reassurance; fostering a preferable atmosphere (giving a sense of ‘normality’ or making the appointment more ‘fun’); respecting the needs of the individual (for example, boundaries/privacy and preferred pace within appointments); and the provision of opportunities to ask questions and gain explanations about the condition, treatments or other aspects of their healthcare (such as the transition from paediatric to adult dermatology). The paper highlights that dermatology nurses have an important role for young people with eczema, acne, psoriasis and alopecia. The significance of nurses becomes apparent in contextualising young dermatology patient’s experiences with various medical professionals, highlighting aspects of practice greatly valued as well as areas for potential improvement.