The 5 Real Costs of Eczema
In the U.S., more than 30 million Americans deal with the red, itchy, scaly symptoms of eczema. And while people put the focus on treating the symptoms that eczema brings, this inflammatory skin condition is more than just its rash-like appearance.
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a group of conditions that cause the skin on any part of the body to become irritatingly itchy, red, and dry.
Since the condition lasts long for many people, treating eczema with oral medications and steroid creams can be expensive. However, treatment isn’t the only thing that comes at a cost for people with eczema.
SCHOOL AND WORK
Going to school or office with eczema can be challenging. In school, other children may tease or bully a kid with flare-ups. Adults can also be put in the same situation as they experience discrimination because of their skin appearance.
According to the National Eczema Association (NEA), one in four children and teens with eczema have experienced bullying because of their disease. This hinders learning in kids, making classrooms a difficult place to learn new things for them. Adults also reported that eczema affected their career progression, stressing that their skin condition became a factor why they got turned down job opportunities.
For people dealing with eczema, bedtimes aren't always a good night's sleep. Itching and scratching, which often occur at night, interrupt or delay the good night's rest.
A decrease in a person's body temperature at night can make the skin feel dry and itchy. Also, the effects of the moisturizer wear off by night, causing them to scratch in their sleep.
“Sleep disturbance occurs in approximately 60% of children with AD, and parents of children with AD are four to eight times more likely to average less than six hours of sleep per night compared with caregivers of healthy children,” NEA added.
Dating isn't easy for most people, but trying to start a new relationship with eczema thrown into the dinner table isn't a piece of cake either.
The itchy, rash-like appearance that eczema gives usually adds to the insecurities of those who have it, fearing that the person in front of them might be repulsed by their skin. NEA reported that one in three adults with eczema said their condition has interfered with establishing relationships and their sexual health.
It's difficult to be noticed when others only recognized you for how bad your skin looks.
Aside from sleep and relationships, eczema also affects the self-esteem of those who have it. Due to the appearance of their skin when flare-ups occur, the mood, self-confidence, and the ability to socialize of both children and adults dealing with eczema are impaired.
For most people of them, the constant itching, especially in public, can get upsetting to the point where they just spend the rest of their days indoors feeling ashamed and disgusted.
Since the early 1900s, studies have already shown a connection between eczema and problems with mental health. According to NEA, eczema's negative impact on mental health ranks greater than that for patients with heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
As NEA explained, people with atopic dermatitis are more likely to exhibit suicidal ideation and more likely to attempt suicide. They are also more likely to experience depression and anxiety as caused by repetitive itching, discomfort, poor sleep, and frustration.
Living with a chronic skin condition like eczema is both a physical game and a mental battle. In understanding its impacts, there's no room for disgust nor belittlement as eczema undoubtedly affects the quality of life of those who cope with it each day.
However, having eczema does not give you an excuse to give up on the beauty of life. As infuriating and tiring this condition can be, atopic dermatitis is a battle that can be won with the proper treatment, the right mindset, and supportive people around you.
As the medical community continues to find a tried-and-true remedy to this skin condition, may we help remind those with eczema that there exists so much more than their dry, itchy, and cracking skin.