| 23 February 2024, Friday |

Eczema’s effects are beyond skin-deep

Eczema, commonly known as Atopic Dermatitis (AD), is a chronic inflammatory condition marked by dry skin, extreme itching, and recurrent lesions. However, it has far-reaching consequences for patients and their families. The illness usually starts in childhood, but it can strike anyone at any age.

In the developing world, Alzheimer’s disease is growing more common. In the eastern Mediterranean, 10.8% of 13-14-year-old children had had Alzheimer’s disease at some point in their lives.

With a severe and often overlooked impact on quality of life, the disease can be debilitating for both patients and their caregivers. For an outsider who is relatively unaware of the condition, it can be challenging to fathom how challenging it can be to live with cracked and intensely itchy skin that can even bleed from scratching.

Beyond its physical symptoms, AD negatively affects patients’ mental health and general wellbeing. Patients with AD, especially adolescents, are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. As no cure exists today, the condition can adversely affect patients’ academic, professional, and social lives at a high psychological and financial cost.

For most patients, topical treatments are used to manage flare-ups and dampen the inflammatory response. However, significant gaps in the management of AD remain – primarily a lack of coordinated impact data around this misunderstood and stigmatized disease. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a lack of a collective response and resources to help educate patients and caregivers about the disease’s physical and psychological components.

“A misunderstood skin disease: Mapping the policy response to atopic dermatitis,” a comprehensive report prepared by the EIU and commissioned by Pfizer and GlobalSkin – The International Alliance of Dermatology Patient Organizations – indicates that as patients with AD need physiological and psychological support, only a multidisciplinary care approach can genuinely benefit patients.

Such an approach requires the creation of entire ecosystem focused on offering patients the right knowledge, skills and confidence to better manage their condition. In essence, doctors will have to work hand in hand with psychologists and dietitians to provide patients with an individualized, multidimensional treatment plan. The report also states that patients can significantly benefit from the development of educational material such as handbooks and awareness campaigns, among others. To further alleviate the burden on the healthcare system, patient support groups can help in addressing critical unmet needs by empowering patients, providing them a voice, and shedding light on the challenges faced by those living with AD.

Moving forward, bringing the community together around AD is an important step to prioritize the disease on the health agenda. Having various stakeholders, including healthcare professionals, policymakers, pharmaceutical companies, and patient supports groups throw their collective weight behind a united strategy can set the stage for a lifetime of better health for AD patients.

  • MTV Lebanon