October is eczema awareness month, which is a month-long campaign directed at people and families of those who suffer from eczema all over the world. The main goals of the campaign are to raise awareness, reduce stigma and show the impact of eczema. Because not only does eczema affect the skin, it also has psychological effects such as depression and anxiety.
When we say eczema (dermatitis) we’re not referring to one disease, there are many types of eczema, so when we talk about it here, we’re merely “scratching” the surface. What people usually mean by eczema is the atopic type, which is the most common type, the hallmark of this disease is pruritus, which is basically just a fancy word for “itching”. There isn’t one single cause for atopic dermatitis, a few hypotheses have been suggested but they all revolve around the patient’s genetical tendency to develop allergic diseases, a term called “atopy”, there is also strong association with asthma, hay fever and other allergic diseases. Atopic dermatitis is usually diagnosed at childhood, but it could be diagnosed later in life. Educating the patient to stop scratching and to avoid triggers such as soaps with certain chemicals is important. Topical treatment is also initially used (steroids, tacrolimus), phototherapy and systemic steroids are usually reserved for non-responsive cases.
In conclusion, eczema is a serious autoimmune disease affecting the skin, which has both physical and psychological impact. Eczema awareness month is there to shed some light on these issues and the impact of it on individuals.
Happy Eczema Awareness Month!
Written by: Khalid Al Dakheel, Medical Student @ KSU
Reference: Fitzpatrick Color Atlas and Synopsis of Clinical
Dermatology (Vienna) By Klauss Wolff and
Richard Allen Johnson. (6th Edition)