Atopic dermatitis, the inflammatory skin disease that causes rashes, dryness and itching that is difficult to control, has consequences for everyday life and mental health. November 27 is National Atopic Dermatitis Day.
79% of people with atopic dermatitis see how this systemic and chronic pathology that occurs in outbreaks has consequences in their day-to-day life when, on the other hand, it is a disease “trivialized and undervalued” by society.
This is collected in a survey carried out by the Association of Affected by Atopic Dermatitis (AADA)which has the support of the Pell Sana Foundation (belonging to the Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, AEDV)and which is presented as part of National Atopic Dermatitis Day, on November 27.
341 patients with the disease resident in Spain and in the countries of South America participated in the aforementioned survey, with the aim of finding out the impact of this pathology on the quality of life of those who suffer from it.
Footprint on mental health
This work also reflects that dermatitis not only has a physical impact on patients, but also creates a deep imprint on mental health. In fact, 44% of respondents have needed psychological support because of this pathology.
In addition, the visible manifestations of the disease also have an impact on aspects related to self-esteem and the psychological impact.
Specifically, 87% of respondents express problems with their appearance and 8 out of 10 report concentration problems, more desire to cry and the inability to do things they would like to do because of this pathology.
“Atopic dermatitis affects all areas of our lives, it affects the clothes we wear if we have a lot of skin damage, it lowers our self-esteem, it interferes with our social life and leisure activities,” points out Belén Delgado, vice president of ‘AADA. So much so, that 66% of respondents feel ashamed or self-conscious about the state of their skin.
Thus, 73% of those consulted commented that the disease has influenced a lot (44%) or quite a bit (29%) on the clothes they use since it is sometimes difficult to wear a bathing suit in public or to wear trousers, skirts and short sleeves.
Consequences of atopic dermatitis in working life
Although due to lack of knowledge, atopic dermatitis has always been associated with children, it is estimated that more than one million adults suffer from it in Spain, according to AADA.
In fact, 86% of respondents reflect that atopic dermatitis has had consequences on their productivity, with an average of 17 days of work/study lost due to this reason.
“To this must be added, the impact on the quality of sleep, which affects 9 out of 10 patients, and which have a high involvement in the loss of our concentration levels”, explains Belén Delgado.
In addition, 82% of respondents reported having a lot of pain or itching, which directly impacts the quality of life.
Satisfaction with the treatment
Among the conclusions of the survey it is also highlighted that, in order to achieve better control of this type of dermatitis and an improvement in the quality of life, it is necessary for patients to have equitable access to all available therapies, as well as visibility and the non-trivialization of the disease.
Although 43% of patients indicate that they are little or very little satisfied with the treatment, it is worth noting that 6 out of 10 patients surveyed in treatment with advanced therapies show a high degree of satisfaction.
Guide for living with people with atopic dermatitis
The pharmaceutical company Sanofi, in collaboration with the AADA association, has published the first advice guide aimed at the general population on living with people with severe atopic dermatitis (SAD).
The purpose is to change the perception of a disease about which there is still a significant lack of information and knowledge, which leads to a great social stigma towards people who suffer from it.
In Spain, it is estimated that more than 2 million people live with atopic dermatitis every day and, among all, more than 30,000 adults and 20,000 children suffer from this pathology in its most serious form, according to Sanofi.
The guide is part of the 2021 #HistoriasConLuz campaign, created from the stories and accounts received over 2 years by real patients and caregivers.
Ten keys for the general population
- Do not you worry, dermatitis is not contagious. It can be caused by multiple factors, including genetics,
environmental or immunological specific to the person. It is not transmitted, so you can have physical contact with people with DAG as normal.
- Have understanding, respect and empathy towards those people with DAG who, day after day, do not manage to get an optimal rest at night. Sometimes DAG can affect the sleep of those who suffer from it and, consequently, affect their character and mood, which can cause a decline in performance in their daily obligations and even depression.
- Avoid comments about the skin that might make them feel uncomfortable. In more extreme cases, itching and skin irritations can cause sores and visible eczema. These marks can affect your self-esteem.
- Don’t ask the way they dress. People with DAG choose their clothes carefully: these must be made of materials that do not harm the skin, and therefore have more limitations when it comes to choosing. Likewise, they may use their clothing to try to cover wounds and eczema to avoid prying eyes.
- Respects the special needs of the skin. Skins with DAG need constant hydration, too
of specific care depending on the case. This is why many patients always carry topical creams and solutions.
- Not all advice is valid. Severe atopic dermatitis is a disease that must be treated by a professional dermatologist and monitored. Downplaying it through generic tips and home remedies is one
mistake that can negatively affect the evolution of the disease and the self-esteem of those who suffer from the disease.
- Plans are adapted and not cancelled. Some people with DAG may not feel comfortable doing certain activities, such as those that involve prolonged exposure to the sun, seawater or swimming pools. These are aggressive situations for the skin and, although with proper treatment they can lead a completely normal life, there may be plans that they prefer not to join on time. Before you stop counting on him or her, ask him or her what situations he or she wants to avoid so you can make plans.
- Sport, why not? When it comes to playing sports and exercise, we don’t automatically exclude you from these plans and ask, in each case, how you feel. While some people avoid exercise and sweat because atopic dermatitis takes a toll on their skin, there are many others who enjoy regular exercise as part of their treatment.
- Don’t put your limitations before your potential. The vast majority of those affected by DAG can lead a lifetime
totally normal and nothing prevents them from fulfilling their goals and objectives. Normalizing the illness prevents them from having to constantly prove and justify their worth, which can be hard and stressful.
- Severe atopic dermatitis has consequences in adults and children: we educate from childhood.