More holistic care is needed for eczema sufferers as most of them experience a significant impact on their quality of life and mental health, a UK report has concluded.
The study from the National Eczema Society, published this week, found 89% of 530 of people with eczema said the condition significantly reduces their quality of life. Of 524 parents of children with eczema, also surveyed, 76% said the same.
Seventy-four per cent of adults also said the condition negatively impacts their mental health. Itchy and painful skin, coupled with a lack of sleep and feelings of self-consciousness, can be ‘wearing for patients and take an emotional toll’, the report said.
Consultant dermatologist at Barts Health NHS Trust Dr Anthony Bewley said there was a ‘worrying lack of support available to people living with skin conditions like eczema’, given ‘physical health is intrinsically linked with mental health’.
Adults surveyed reported trouble falling or staying asleep at least weekly because of the condition (61%), as well as feelings of loneliness and social isolation (66%) and a negative impact on their sexual intimacy (59%). Nearly half also said it had affected their ability to do paid work.
Yet two-fifths (39%) of overall respondents said they felt ‘let down’ by their healthcare professionals, a third said they felt they were not being taken seriously, and 60% had no care plans in place to manage their condition.
Dr Bewley continued: ‘There is an urgent clinical need to equip healthcare professionals with the necessary skills and resources to provide the holistic care that patients need.’
The report is calling for clinicians to provide holistic care and for commissioners to fund service delivery to improve access to care
Clinical guidelines and quality standards for adults and adolescents with eczema must also be developed, it argued, as there were ‘huge variations’ in care.
People with eczema can experience a wide range of painful physical symptoms, which are variable and often difficult to manage effectively with current treatments.
Two-thirds (67%) of overall respondents said they experience cracked or inflamed skin so sore that it bleeds, while 96% of adults and 95% of children experienced itchy skin.
The report was also developed with funding from LEO Pharma.