Living with eczema can be very uncomfortable, with itchy and cracked skin being a constant bother. A recent study suggests that eczema cases are on the rise, depending on the environment.
Eczema is a condition that causes itchy, dry, and cracked skin. It is most common among children and typically develops before age one. It is also possible, however, to develop eczema after reaching adulthood. It is generally a chronic condition, despite the possibility of treatment. According to the National Eczema Association, around 31.6 million individuals in the United States suffer from eczema.
This means around one in 10 individuals have eczema during their life. Of the numbers, 9.6 million children under 18 have atopic dermatitis, a common type of eczema. In a recent study published in Clinical & Experimental Allergy, the research team gathered data from 14 countries to include thousands of child and adolescent participants in the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood. The study used data from 74,361 adolescents and 47,907 children.
They searched for eczema prevalence, severity, and lifetime eczema prevalence. The study found that around 6% of children and adolescents have eczema symptoms, and the number has heightened over the past decade. Per the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, eczema cases have been on the rise for many reasons. It could be due to exposure to allergens, including dust mites, or other things such as harsh cosmetics, soaps, detergents, lotions, and more. Eczema can also be triggered by weather, especially when it’s cold and dry.
"More understanding of why the prevalence of eczema is increasing in some settings is a major priority. From a health services and disease burden perspective, there is a need to focus research efforts on understanding why the prevalence of severe eczema symptoms is particularly high in specific geographical locations," said the report.
The research did have a couple of limitations, as the participants were mostly from urban settings, compared to rural ones. This face hinders demonstrating a global community. The study also used self-reporting results from parents and participants, which can sometimes be inaccurate.
The research team concluded: "Global research efforts are needed to address the burden related to eczema with continued international efforts to identify strategies to prevent the onset of eczema and to better manage the impact on individuals, their families, and health services."
How is eczema treated?
Eczema necessitates treatment as it is a chronic condition. Some suffering from eczema may have extraordinarily itchy and dry skin, often leading to oozing. Eczema treatment varies from person to person, for some, it gets worse over time, but for others, symptoms can diminish entirely.
Some experts believe that eczema is more common in higher-income areas, as they are more likely to have cleaner environments, vaccines, and antibiotic usage. These elements can contribute to your immune system, ironically making you more vulnerable to eczema.
There is no sole treatment for eczema, but medical professionals may prescribe cream medications and educate those with eczema about managing the skin condition. They can also utilize self-techniques, such as minimizing scratching and using emollients. You can also focus on maintaining good hygiene and avoiding harsh products on the skin. If your eczema gets worse, it is important to consult with a medical professional to get help.
The precise reason behind eczema is yet to be found, but it can be genetics or even evolve from other complications including asthma and hay fever.
- Clinical & Experimental Allergy Trends in eczema prevalence in children and adolescents: A Global Asthma Network Phase I Study
- National Health Service Atopic eczema
- NHS Inform Atopic eczema
- National Library of Medicine International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC): rationale and methods
- National Eczema Association Eczema Stats
Show all references
- American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Eczema
- National Library of Medicine Too clean, or not too clean: the Hygiene Hypothesis and home hygiene