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25-11-2010 | Paediatrics | Article

Childhood atopic dermatitis impacts family quality of life


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MedWire News: Having a child with atopic dermatitis can severely affect the quality of life of other family members, research suggests.

The investigator behind the research says the findings "emphasize the importance of investigating the quality of life of atopic dermatitis families," and recommends the use of a simple questionnaire to measure the impact so that appropriate disease management can be given.

Dr Hani Al Shobaili, from Qassim University in Saudi Arabia, used a validated questionnaire (Dermatitis Family Impact Questionnaire), completed by the parents of 447 children aged 6 years on average with atopic dermatitis, to assess the impact of the disease on their lives.

A score of 0 to 5 on the questionnaire would indicate normal quality of life, 6 to 10 as low alteration in quality of life, 11 to 20 as moderate alteration, and above 20 out of a maximum of 25 as high alteration.

The researcher found that only 3% of families had a normal quality of life, while 23% were mildly affected, 66% were moderately affected, and 7% were severely affected.

Sleep deprivation, financial burden, and meal preparation were the major activates that were the most affected by the presence of atopic dermatitis in a child.

Children with atopic dermatitis often have sleepless nights because of itching, and previous research has shown that parents of affected children can lose up to 1 or 2 hours of sleep per night.

"Such loss of sleep can translate into poor work performance and decreased coping skills both at work and at home," says Dr Al Shobaili in the journal Pediatric Dermatology.

There also additional financial burdens, he explains, in terms of costs of treatment, time missed from work for physician appointments, and as result of lifestyle changes, including restricting or modifying diets, using special soaps and detergents, and wearing clothing or using linens of all natural fibers.

"Because atopic dermatitis can have a significant psychosocial impact on the family of the patients, it is clear that atopic dermatitis children and their families need more than just the physical treatment of symptoms," says Dr Al Shobaili.

"Parents of children with atopic dermatitis often need an appropriate management plan including an educational program and a carefully planned multidisciplinary approach for optimal care of the patients, with the participation of a paediatrician, a dermatologist, and a psychologist."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Lucy Piper