It’s more than an annoying rash — it’s a serious skin condition that can be linked with dangerous complications.
czema — a condition that causes dry, itchy, inflamed skin — might not sound serious. But it’s more than just an annoyance. It’s life altering. And it’s not just a childhood disease. While many people outgrow the condition, about 20% see it persist as they age.
“It’s not just a little rash. It’s a disease that needs to be treated. If you don’t treat it you can land in the hospital,” says Lisa Choy of Marin County, California. Choy, 63, has been battling the condition since age 7, and says her eczema has become increasingly worse as she gets older.
Here’s what you need to know about the condition.
1. Eczema is more common than you think
About 16.5 million adults have atopic dermatitis, the most common form of eczema.
2. It’s linked with a range of other health conditions
Adults with atopic dermatitis are at higher risk of diabetes, obesity, autoimmune disease, high blood pressure, and heart disease. If they are hospitalized, they are at higher risk for infection.
3. It’s treatable, but not curable
Treatments have improved since Choy’s childhood — she remembers being wrapped in Saran Wrap before bed so the medication could soak in while she was sleeping.
Many older adults with eczema have settled into a routine of treating their skin with moisturizers and steroids. But newer targeted therapies can help them get better control of the condition. And more oral and topical medications are in the development pipeline.
“We know many people have given up because practitioners didn’t have anything new to give them. It’s very frustrating.” says Julie Block, president and CEO of the National Eczema Association. “But if you suffer from moderate to severe atopic dermatitis don’t give up hope. See your dermatologist. We know more about this inflammatory, chronic disease than ever.”
4. It can affect your personal life and your mental health
People with atopic dermatitis have 2.5 to three times the risk of anxiety or depression, with risk increasing in more severe cases.
Lack of sleep can be troubling, too. “Imagine you’re up scratching all night. The loss of sleep is so significant. Marriages suffer, parenting suffers, work suffers,” Block says.
And people with the disease work to overcome embarrassment. Choy says it took her a long time to build the confidence to be more open about her condition. “A lot of people don’t want to tell people they’re going through all this,” Choy says. “We just want to be like everyone else.”
5. It’s time consuming
“It could take two hours a day or more for skin care. It’s exhausting,” Block says.
“I have to carry moisturizer with me all time and keep it in different parts of the house. The minute I start scratching I should be attending to it.”–Lisa Choy, 63
Choy keeps close tabs on her skin and has a range of products — moisturizing creams and ointments and medicated bath oils — to use depending on whether her skin is dry, itchy, flaky, or rashy.
She says, “There are days I just don’t want to think about my skin. It’s exhausting. I have to think of every inch of my body — was that itchy yesterday?” She bathes twice a day and afterwards has three minutes to slather on moisturizer and oil before her skin starts to dry up and itch.
“Treating it can be really frustrating. I have to carry moisturizer with me all time and keep it in different parts of the house. The minute I start scratching I should be attending to it,” she says.
But all this effort is important, because flareups can be severe. “Right now I’m doing really well, but I have had it from head to toe. When that happens you don’t want to leave the house. You don’t want clothes touching your body,” Choy says.
6. It can lead to dangerous infections
When people with eczema scratch, they run the risk of breaking their skin and causing an infection. That happened to Choy, and she ended up hospitalized. “When I got up in the morning, I had a dime-sized spot of redness around a scratch. A couple of hours later I noticed it was growing, so I got to the doctor. It was starting to track to the lymph node on the top of my leg,” she says.
7. It’s different in everyone, and even different in the same person over time
“What works for one person may not work for another,” Block says. “And symptoms may change over time.” Some people have better symptom control in summer, and others do better in winter. A product can be helpful for a while, then stop working. The National Eczema Association grants a seal of acceptance for cleansers, moisturizers, and sunscreens that meet their criteria.Some people have better symptom control in summer, and others do better in winter. A product can be helpful for a while, then stop working.
Choy works hard to control her symptoms and to identify and avoid triggers. “I tried acupuncture, I did allergy testing, I tried food elimination — as an eczema patient you try everything,” she says.
She knows she is sensitive to fragrances, dyes, and pet dander: “You name it, I will probably react to it more than a person who doesn’t have eczema.”
Choy notices that diet makes a difference. She tries to stay away from processed foods and sugars, eats more vegetables and fruits, and drinks a lot of water. She works to manage her stress levels as well.
8. Eczema runs in families
It’s also linked with asthma and allergies. So if you have asthma or allergies, your children or grandchildren may be diagnosed with eczema.
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Fuente: / Source: considerable.com