Itch, dryness and other eczema symptoms negatively affect quality of life, according to a new study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
Of 602 adults with eczema, symptoms that were the biggest burden were itch (54 percent) followed by excessive dryness or scaling (19 percent) and red or inflamed skin (7 percent). Skin pain and sleep disturbance were the next most burdensome symptoms, the study showed.
“Those with moderate or severe eczema were less likely to report itch or excessive dryness or scaling as their most burdensome symptoms,” says Jonathan I. Silverberg, MD, PhD, MPH, lead author of the study. “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 percent) or poor (15 percent) overall health and reported being somewhat (16 percent) or very (11 percent) dissatisfied with life compared to those who do not have eczema.” Dr. Feinberg is an Assistant Professor of Dermatology, Medical Social Sciences and Preventive Medicine at orthwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
Eczema was associated with a worse quality of life than several other common chronic illnesses including heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, the authors note. Moreover, moderate and severe eczema were associated with dramatically lower quality of life than all other chronic disorders examined.
“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, MD, ACAAI Fellow and co-author of the study. “Even those with mild eczema reported it limited their lifestyle, impacted activities or led to avoidance of social interactions. The harmful effects were even worse for those with moderate and severe eczema. Almost half of adults with severe eczema reported quite a bit or a great deal of a burden in their lives.”