Atopic Dermatitis Impact on Quality of Life in Adolescents

Julie Block: The impact on a child’s quality of life as it relates to the signs that are exhibited with eczema or atopic dermatitis: red flares, itch, rash, bleeding, scaling, many patients don’t want to wear black because it will show their flaky skin. Some don’t want to wear white because they may be bleeding through their clothes because they have scratched so hard and so bad. Also flares, for kids, they get the “ooh factor”, and many of their peers and the uneducated among us think it’s contagious. This is not a contagious disease.

But obviously, a person with atopic dermatitis is very self-conscious about their appearance. Sometimes there’s, besides the red and the rashes, there’s straya that is permanent or can be permanent, signs of distressed skin, beyond that, just dry skin all the time. I mean that’s inherent in this disease. Generally speaking, you have to moisturize, moisturize, moisturize all day long. And that’s also an issue. It has an impact if you’re the only one. For young children you can’t go out for recess because you’re going to sweat, so maybe you’re sitting inside the classroom while all your friends are out playing or there are certain kinds of soaps you cannot use or should not use. So there’s a wide variety of management tools and attention that a child or teenager needs to manage the disease. And that’s all apparent to their peers or anybody watching, and it makes them “different.”

So it has significant impact on not only the treatment and management of your disease but how you feel about yourself and your self-esteem, and I dare say, more that so badly a child wants to control. There is no control of itching. It’s the worst thing when somebody says don’t scratch because they cannot help it. Now, many learn some techniques to keep themselves busy and keep their hands busy. But, in general, it’s not possible. So I can’t emphasize enough just what feeling incessant itch 24/7 can do to a person and how they interact with their world. For many children, basically, the world is their enemy. The allergens, irritants, everything can trigger their atopic dermatitis and it’s very difficult to manage.

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