Prevention and Care: European Atopic Eczema Awareness Day 14 September 2018

Written by Carla Jones on 12 September 2018 in Opinion Plus
Opinion Plus

People living with atopic eczema need effective solutions for disease management and treatment, explains Carla Jones.

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The latest report from the European Federation of Allergies and Airways Diseases Patients Associations (EFA) ‘Itching for Life: Quality of life and costs for people living with severe atopic eczema in Europe’ is the largest survey of its kind, highlighting the depth of impact that atopic eczema has on people’s bodies, their mental health, their finances and their ability to face life.

We are launching this report during the first ever European Atopic Eczema Awareness Day on 14 September, which we established to raise awareness of this depilating skin disease.

The largest organ of the human body is the skin. It lives and breathes and connects us to the environment in which we live – including the touch of our loved ones.


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And yet for those living with atopic eczema, a chronic inflammatory skin disease that affects up to 20 per cent of children and three per cent of adults in Europe, the impact of this disease on their quality of life is dismissed as superficial and trivial.

Four out of five people with atopic eczema also have other allergies and asthma – multiplying the impact of their disease burden.

Our survey highlights for the first time the appalling physical, emotional, psychological and financial suffering experienced by Europeans living with atopic eczema.

Forty-five per cent of those surveyed reported serious symptoms requiring treatment every day of their lives. They also highlighted how their skin condition can get worse due to foods, air pollution and chemicals in everyday items such as detergents.

Our skin changes daily and therefore the management routine of skin condition for a person with atopic eczema has to be adapted daily, requiring a range of different treatments.

"Our survey highlights for the first time the appalling physical, emotional, psychological and financial suffering experienced by Europeans living with atopic eczema"

This all impacts on quality of life and 23 per cent of those surveyed felt a lack of positivity with life, and especially where intimacy and relationships were affected (just under half those surveyed).

Around two-fifths advised that their working life was affected because of their symptoms and their care routines, with an average additional annual expenditure of €927,12 on treatments, with 18 per cent a month extra expenditure on personal hygiene necessities such as special gloves to wear and special toiletries which are less painful to the skin.

Around 38 per cent of respondents said they felt impaired at work because of their skin disease, with 1 in 2 taking sick leave because of their atopic eczema – a huge cost impact for the economy.

Our report highlights the need for improved recognition of this serious, chronic life-long skin disease among policy makers and the public. No-one should be made to feel embarrassed, depressed and negative about life because of their skin.

Patients with atopic eczema need solutions to disease management and treatment with investment needed into research to develop new treatments to provide more effective therapies and hopefully a cure for atopic eczema.

"Tthose living with atopic eczema are expected to suffer in silence and feel that in some way this it is their fault and this skin disease is trivial"

They need better access to more affordable healthcare and higher financial support from insurance so that the financial burden is reduced.

Improved awareness of available treatments is needed so that patients can make informed choices on how to manage their disease with their physician.

Living with atopic eczema is painful every day. It is a skin disease that compromises everyday life for those living with the disease and their families. It impacts on employers and the economy. And yet those living with atopic eczema are expected to suffer in silence and feel that in some way this it is their fault and this skin disease is trivial.

We invite you to join us on Friday 14 September, the first ever European Atopic Eczema Awareness Day to help raise awareness of this depilating skin disease and make a difference to the quality of life for those people living with atopic eczema in Europe.

#AtopicalLives

@EFA_Patients

About the author

Carla Jones is Board Secretary for the European Federation of Allergies and Airways Diseases Patients Associations (EFA)

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