People with eczema have reduced quality of life
MedWire News: Eczema can have a profoundly negative impact on sufferers' health and wellbeing, say researchers, who call for more attention to be paid to non-medical aspects of the condition.
For the research, Dr Nataša Maksimović (University of Belgrade, Serbia) and colleagues surveyed 132 people - 66 adults and 64 children - attending a hospital eczema clinic.
All patients completed questionnaires to assess their skin symptoms and other aspects of their health and wellbeing.
Dr Maksimović's team found that the severity of eczema was linked with people's quality of life, so that the more severe the eczema the lower their quality of life.
Importantly, however, even patients with mild eczema had a lower quality of life than would be expected in members of the general population.
More detailed analysis showed that eczema affected specific aspects of people's wellbeing, such as personal relationships, schooling, holiday and leisure, and ability to sleep.
Commenting on their observations, Dr Maksimović and colleagues say that both children and adults with eczema appear to suffer not only from medical symptoms but also from the negative impact of their condition on aspects of their daily lives.
"In all cases, greater severity of disease was associated with greater impairment in health-related quality of life," they write in the Journal of Dermatology.
The authors say that the onset or exacerbation of eczema can be triggered by stressful life events. Thus, patients with eczema may respond to emotional stress with increased itching and scratching, which could further aggravate their skin condition.
"Intractable itching also causes significant insomnia, and sleep deprivation leads to fatigue, mood lability and impaired functioning," they note.
Finally, the authors state that adults with eczema are known to have higher levels of anxiety and depression than people in the general population - both of which could contribute to a lower quality of life.
They conclude: "Our study further supports the decision to use both generic and skin-specific instruments to assess the impact of [eczema] on patients' quality of life."
MedWire (http://www.medwire-news.md/) is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012
By Joanna Lyford