Eczema is often assumed to be a childhood disease; however, the skin condition also affects adults and its prevalence is continually increasing. About half as many adults are affected by eczema than children, but it can negatively influence their quality of life.
Eczema is often assumed to be a childhood disease; however, the skin condition also affects adults and its prevalence is continually increasing.
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, involves red and dry patches of skin that often causes itchiness. According to Jonathan I. Silverberg, MD, PhD, MPH, FAAD, an assistant professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and director of the Northwestern Medicine Multidisciplinary Eczema Center in Chicago, in recent estimates, about half as many adults are affected by eczema than children, but it can negatively influence their quality of life.
“Adult eczema patients may have dealt with their symptoms for their entire lives, which can be draining, or they may experience symptoms for the first time as adults, which can be a difficult adjustment,” explained Silverberg in a press release. “Either way, this condition can take a real toll on them… People who aren’t familiar with the disease might say ‘It’s just eczema.’ But for many patients, it’s not ‘just eczema.’ It can be debilitating.”
Living with eczema often comes with difficulties in everyday routine tasks, could negatively impact work attendance and performance, cause sleeping issues, and lead to mental health issues. Silverberg also describes how certain social situations may be more challenging for those with visible eczema because of the negative stigma and inaccurate assumptions that others make about the disease, such as it being contagious or linked to poor hygiene.
“Fortunately for patients, eczema treatment can help alleviate the negative effects of this disease and improve their physical and mental well-being,” he reassures.
Atopic dermatitis is most commonly treated with moisturizers, topical steroids, phototherapy, or systemic medications. In addition, the FDA has recently approved of an anti-inflammatory topical medication for mild to moderate forms of the disease, and an injectable systemic drug for moderate to severe disease types.
“This is an exciting time that offers a lot of hope and promise for people with eczema, both children and adults,” Silverberg states in reference to the new treatments in the development pipeline. “If you’re struggling with this disease, there are treatment options out there for you, and a board-certified dermatologist can help you find the eczema management plan that works best for you and improve your quality of life.”