Eczema: More than a skin condition

32

Eczema has a significant impact on the quality of life of patients and families, affecting both physical and emotional health

Atopic dermatitis, a form of eczema, is a chronic inflammatory disease with symptoms often appearing as a rash on the skin. It is caused, in part, by an underlying inflammation in the body that is believed to be driven by an overactive immune system. Moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis is characterised by intense, persistent itching, skin lesions and skin dryness, cracking, redness, crusting and oozing. Unchecked atopic dermatitis can have a physical, emotional and psychosocial impact, causing sleep disturbance, symptoms of anxiety and depression, and feelings of isolation.

In the UAE, data released by Dubai Health Authority (DHA) in 2016 showed that out of 20,788 patients who have skin-related diseases, 2,953 or 14.2% of the total cases in the country were confirmed as cases of eczema. Initial symptoms appear around the age of five, with as much as 1 out of 4 children expected to experience atopic dermatitis. DHA also showed that 10 to 20 per cent of adults in the UAE suffer mild to severe atopic dermatitis.

Experts point out that eczema isn’t the visual rash that appears – but rather the sensation of itch that the body experiences on and off.

Family genes also play a role whether the child will eventually experience eczema at one point in their lives if their parent or grandparents ever had one.

Top areas where it appears include shoulders, ankles, wrists, creases in the knees and arms, or as in Fanning’s case earlier, the eyelids. However – it could also appear in other parts of the body as per Dr. Anwar Al Hammadi, President of Emirates Dermatology Society, Adjunct Clinical Associate and Professor of Dermatology at Mohammed Bin Rashid University Of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU) in Dubai and a consulting dermatologist at DermaMed Clinic Dubai stated during the #LivingWithEczemaNetwork live broadcast on Facebook—which tackled the condition and misconceptions around eczema, and led key conversations among various communities.