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Home » Dermatology » How to help people with atopic eczema have better conversations with their doctors

Rippon Ubhi

General Manager, Speciality Care UK & Ireland, Sanofi

Shelley Watcham

Franchise Medical Head, Immunology, Sanofi

“People sometimes underestimate what it takes to go to work, meet up with friends and just live life with eczema. It can be painful, it affects your sleep, your mood, and it is just generally quite exhausting living with eczema,” says Zainab who’s lived all her life with eczema.

Atopic eczema is a chronic inflammatory skin disease. It often starts in childhood, although it can develop at any age. It can be genetic; but stress and environmental factors — such as house dust and other irritants — can trigger it, too. You can grow out of eczema. However, where it persists, effective, long-term management is needed so that it can be sustainably controlled. 

Uncomfortable, distressing symptoms 

Major symptoms are rashes and itching. Shelley Watcham says: “You itch, so you scratch — which gives temporary relief but ends up making symptoms worse. As a result, an itch-scratch cycle develops. Skin can crack, ooze and bleed, making infection more likely. Inflamed skin can become red on lighter skin, and darker brown, purple or grey on darker skin. 

Eczema can be psychologically scarring 

Severe and uncontrolled cases of the disease can take a heavy, emotional toll. Rippon Ubhi discloses: “In partnership with Allergy UK, we listened to 237 patients with eczema, and 78% of them said that it has a negative impact on their mental health; and we know that one-third of patients experience depression because of their eczema. It can hurt people’s confidence, so they don’t socialise. They may have to deal with social stigma, too.” 

“The need to scratch can also interfere with sleep, so a person may feel constantly tired. All of these issues can severely affect quality of life and have a broader impact on productivity,” Watcham adds.  

Be proactive, and don’t let eczema get out of hand before seeing a doctor.

Rippon Ubhi

Don’t put off seeing your doctor 

Ubhi urges people to “Be proactive, and don’t let eczema get out of hand before seeing a doctor.” It’s a condition that is relatively easy to diagnose. Unfortunately, the backlog in the health service in the wake of Covid-19 is making it difficult for patients with atopic eczema to see a dermatologist and ensure they are receiving the best possible treatment.  

“Patients with suspected skin cancer are — rightly — being prioritised by dermatology services; so those with inflammatory skin conditions can end up having longer waiting times or reduced access as a result.” 

Atopic eczema can be controlled 

Sanofi is a global healthcare company with a part to play in eczema care, as Ubhi shares: “At Sanofi, our whole mission is to improve people’s lives through developing and delivering treatment options for conditions like eczema.”  

There are many treatment options for atopic eczema, so all hope is not lost. “When patients still experience symptoms despite receiving treatment, the condition is uncontrolled. However, we believe that uncontrolled eczema can be controlled when getting the right treatment, and good eczema management can be the outcome of that,” Ubhi adds.  

Industry’s part to play in eczema care 

Healthcare professionals are working incredibly hard under very difficult circumstances and can only spend a limited amount of time with each patient. That may not be long enough to fully appreciate how someone with eczema may be feeling. That’s why we’re working with healthcare professionals, offering them education and training to give greater insight into the lives of those living with eczema. 

Ubhi concludes, “We also have to ask: ‘How can we help patients have better conversations with their physicians?’ To that end, we’re working with patient association groups so that people with the condition know exactly what to say to their GP or dermatologist before their consultation. Plus, we’re advocating the support services that are available to patients with atopic eczema. Ultimately, for us, it’s all about putting the patient first and ensuring they have timely access to the latest treatment options.” 

Document Number: MAT-XU-2205492 (V1.0)
Date of Prep: December 2022


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