Absenteeism, discomfort: how can we help teens live better with atopic dermatitis?

(ETX Studio) – Did you know that moderate to severe atopic dermatitis is responsible for 15 to 22 days of absenteeism from school per year in France? This is the finding of a study relayed by Sanofi Genzyme on the occasion of International Atopic Dermatitis Day, September 14, which also shows that skin disease has serious consequences on the quality of life of patients, and especially adolescents. A finding that questions the need to better inform the public and meet the unmet needs of patients.

Atopic dermatitis still too little known?

If atopic dermatitis is one of the most frequent skin diseases in the world, it is still too little understood by those who are not confronted with it. An ignorance which can be at the origin of many prejudices, mockery, or discrimination which strongly impact the daily life of patients. According to a French study carried out in 2020, more than one in three adolescents suffering from atopic dermatitis (35%) say they have already been teased or been isolated, while 57% say they are embarrassed, unhappy or sad because of the skin problems generated by the disease. Health can also be affected since 50% say they have a disturbed sleep.

“We are in the presence of a chronic disease which progresses with relapses and which affects children and adults. The most annoying symptom is undoubtedly pruritus which can be very fierce and insomniac. As a result, we feel tired. in the morning when you wake up, ”explains Professor Jean-Luc Schmutz, head of the dermatology and allergology department at the Nancy CHRU.

Atopic dermatitis is characterized by rashes that can most often appear on the eyelids, face, neck, elbows, wrists, hands, knees and ankles, in adolescents and adults. In its most severe form, it can even cause intense daily itching and skin lesions with a risk of superinfection.

An impact on the lives of teens and their parents

In addition to teasing and loss of self-esteem, atopic dermatitis can also affect the education of affected adolescents. Nearly half of patients say they missed school because of their illness in the past 12 months, while 42% of parents of diagnosed teens have already been forced to take time off work. As we have seen, atopic dermatitis causes an average of 15 to 22 days of absenteeism per year in adolescent patients.

The impact of the disease is felt on the whole family: 39% of parents say they organize their family life around the sick teenager, 26% say they leave other children to focus on the disease. of the teenager concerned, and 63% even admit to feeling guilty about their child’s pathology.

“Atopic dermatitis is a stigmatizing disease because it is visible and the best way to avoid this is to treat it”, underlines Professor Jean-Luc Schmutz. He adds: “Otherwise, we have the information campaigns, World Atopic Dermatitis Day, etc. to make the disease known to the general public.”

Solutions to inform patients

Patients with atopic dermatitis, or suffering from intense, almost daily itching if they have not yet been diagnosed, should consult a healthcare professional (dermatologist) who will be able to offer them the most appropriate treatment.

There are also associations likeFrench Eczema Association or the National Eczema Association, who advise and support patients on a daily basis through numerous events, just like the site Dermatite-atopique.fr which provides a lot of information and advice on the disease as well on the management and the symptoms as on the discomfort felt on a daily basis.

The figures presented come from the French ECL-Ados study carried out by the company EMMA in 2020. It was offered to 400 parents of adolescents aged 12 to 17 suffering from atopic dermatitis diagnosed by a doctor. With their consent, a questionnaire was issued to their adolescent.

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