07/17/2018 10:28 EDT | Updated 07/17/2018 11:08 EDT

Eczema Lowers Quality Of Life More Than Heart Disease, Study Finds

Half of sufferers believe the skin condition limits their lifestyle.

New U.S. research has found that even mild eczema can lower quality of life for sufferers and for some can cause an even more severe impact than other chronic illnesses including heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Carried out by researchers at institutions across the U.S., the study set out to look at the effect of eczema, also known as Atopic Dermatitis, on quality of life and the potential burden it places on sufferers.

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The researchers surveyed 602 adults with eczema, asking them to report on characteristic symptoms such as severe itching, redness and excessively dry skin, and complete a questionnaire to assess their quality of life.

The responses showed that the symptoms which caused the biggest burden were itching, reported by 54 per cent of participants, followed by excessive dryness or scaling (19 per cent) and red or inflamed skin (7 per cent).

Sleep disturbance was a common burdensome second symptom, reported by 11.4 per cent of those surveyed, followed by pain, reported by 8.2 per cent.

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"Those with moderate or severe eczema were less likely to report itch or excessive dryness or scaling as their most burdensome symptoms," added lead author Jonathan I. Silverberg, "A higher proportion of that group reported blisters or bumps, sleep disturbance, pain and open sores or oozing as their most burdensome symptoms."

"In addition, a high percentage of all those surveyed considered themselves to only have fair (25 per cent) or poor (15 per cent) overall health and reported being somewhat (16 per cent) or very (11 per cent) dissatisfied with life compared to those who do not have eczema."

Even mild eczema makes an impact

The team also found that overall, 51.3 per cent reported that eczema commonly limited their lifestyle, 39.1 per cent avoid social interaction because of their appearance, and 43.3 per cent reported that it impacted their activities.

Even patients with mild eczema reported that the condition limited their lifestyle (34.5 per cent), impacted activities (23.2 per cent), or led to avoidance of social interactions (17.7 per cent).

Moreover, eczema had a greater negative effect on quality of life than several other common chronic illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

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"We were not surprised to discover that symptoms of eczema can lead to mental health disturbance and impaired quality of life," says allergist Luz Fonacier, co-author of the study, however the team added that both new and existing treatments can be effective in reducing the severity of symptoms. Visiting an allergist can also help patients find the treatment that is right for them.

The results can be found published online in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).

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