Supporting children, young people and families with eczema
Eczema is a complex disease to self-manage, between tackling the flares, following a regular maintenance regimen and avoiding triggers. It also has an impact on all aspects of life of infants, children, young people and their families, from self-esteem to relationships, education and social activities, mainly due to persistent itching and pain, sleep disturbance and emotional distress. Effective treatment of eczema demands good self-management which, if established early on, can lead to considerable improvements in quality of life and adherence to an agreed plan.
Eczema (also known as atopic eczema, childhood eczema and atopic dermatitis) is a common dry, itchy skin condition that usually develops in early childhood, affecting 15–30% of children (Thandi et al, 2021). Around 70–90% of cases occur before 5 years of age, with a high incidence of onset in the first year of life, which may improve or resolve by late childhood (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), 2023), although it may persist in adolescence and adulthood (Margolis et al, 2014). There are considerable differences in eczema incidence and prevalence by ethnicity, socio-demographic characteristics and geography, demonstrating the need to consider these factors when assessing health needs (De Lusignan et al, 2021).
Effective treatment of eczema demands good self-management which, if established early on, can lead to considerable improvements in quality of life (Ridd et al, 2017). Self-management can be particularly challenging during adolescence and early adulthood, and young people must take on a more active role in their eczema management, a role that was previously the primary responsibility of their families (Greenwell et al, 2021). The right education, guidance, support and self-management tools are crucial.
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