Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis is a skin condition where patches of rash appear on the skin. These rashes are normally inflamed, red and itchy. Sometimes blisters may form as well, this uncomfortable condition can sometimes leave skin dry, rough, cracked and occasionally accompanied with an intense itch.
This condition is most common in childhood and about 50 percent of people who have them during their childhood continue having it as adults.
The itchiness from eczema can cause scratching and rubbing against the skin that leads to a thickened skin, also known as lichenification.
Hyperpigmentation of the skin is also very common, leaving patches of skin with different tones of redness. The most commonly affected visible areas are places like the face and neck.
The results from scratching and rubbing can lead to undesirable physical appearance. This often contributes to negative psychological effects which may lead to social isolation or low self-esteem.
First let’s take a look at the possible psychosocial effects by eczema:
– When compared with preschool children that are unaffected by eczema, children with eczema seem to exhibit a higher risk for hyperactivity and increased dependence on their parents.
– Children with visible eczema tend to get teased and bullied more often in school. This can lead to social isolation, social stigmatisation and even poor school performance.
– Lifestyle restrictions such as clothing material, pet ownership, certain leisure activities such as swimming or outdoor sports and outdoor activities.
– Higher possibility of having low self image, poor self esteem and a lack in social skills.
Eczema, does not carry just burden to skin, but also to psychological aspects.
Burden of Suffering from Eczema
Having eczema does not only affect the individual but also their family as a whole. Here let us review the results taken from the Dermatitis Family Impact (DFI) questionnaire that were used to assess the impact of eczema on patients and their families.
One of the studies has shown that the impact of a family with children having eczema is similar to a family that has children with asthma or diabetes. They were compared with these three pointers: cost of care, changes the family has to adjust to with the disease and strain on family relationships. Therefore eczema should not be seen as a simple skin allergy to be brushed aside.
In the cases of people with chronic eczema conditions, the intense itchy could even cause them insomnia or sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation can be a dangerous thing which could lead to impaired thinking or emotional problems. This in turn can put the patient in a state of depression. If not looked into or treated properly this depression can also cause stress which further triggers the eczema flare leading to more itchiness and the cycle continues.
Looking For Treatment
Right now there is not enough evidence to confirm a cure for eczema but there are still ways to manage the symptoms and prevent flare ups. Up to this point it is equally as important. People often manage them with home remedies, including natural gels and oils, medicated baths or dietary restrictions.
Meeting a psychologist or psychiatrist would be good in dealing with both the physical and psychological effects of eczema. A professional can help conduct counselling which includes behavioural therapy, relaxation therapy and habit reversal training. Medications such as antidepressants can also be provided upon diagnosis of depression. This would help reduce the stress that the patient is facing which in turn reduces the flare ups. Patient support groups can also be good in this journey of healing.
When faced with eczema the most important thing is to find ways to manage its symptoms and to prevent flare ups. This may require us to be more alert of our surroundings (to lessen eczema triggers) and take the initiative to seek out treatment to stop the itching, as scratching may worsen its condition. Starting any treatment early is also essential for speedy healing and to prevent it from getting worse. With the right management and planning, people with eczema can lead a life of good quality too.