Managing the skin condition, eczema, can prove to be a major financial burden for some, a new survey has revealed.
According to the findings, over 40% of those affected have had to cut back on their household expenditure because of the day-to-day costs of managing the skin disease
Atopic eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that causes a dry, red, itchy rash on the skin. This may appear scaly, weep, bleed or crust over.
The condition can start at any time in life, but is most common in childhood. It affects one in five children in Ireland and one in 12 adults.
The survey of over 450 people was carried out by the Irish Skin Foundation and it revealed that the cost of treatments and doctor visits can place financial pressure on many of those affected.
For example, 42% of carers of children with the condition, and 49% of affected adults, said that they had to cut back on household expenses due to the cost of managing it.
The figures found that one-quarter of those affected are spending at least €2,300 every year on doctors' fees, prescription treatments and over-the-counter products.
The condition can also have a major impact on quality of life. For example, a major symptom of eczema is an intense itch and this can disrupt sleep. Some 86% of affected children and 84% of adults experience ongoing sleep disruption.
Furthermore, at least one-quarter of parents say that their affected child misses up to two days of school per month as a result of the condition.
"These new Irish survey findings provide us with valuable insights into the often-hidden burden experienced by those living with or caring for people with moderate to severe atopic eczema.
"The findings further underscore that people living with this very common condition experience a whole host of challenges in their daily lives, beyond the pain and discomfort of this very debilitating skin disease," commented consultant dermatologist, Prof Anne-Marie Tobin.
The Irish Skin Foundation offers plenty of tips, guidance and resources for those affected. It also operates a helpline with access to specialist dermatology nurses.
"The disruption and stress that moderate and severe atopic eczema can cause is very clear from the findings of our recent survey. Our work with families impacted by eczema, particularly at this time of the year as the school term starts back, focuses on supporting people to re-establish care routines that will strengthen the skin barrier.
"This is quite important in advance of the weather cooling and central heating being turned on again in the autumn, both of which can be a challenge for vulnerable skin and can lead to flares," commented Irish Skin Foundation CEO, David McMahon.
The results were released to coinside with World Atopic Eczema Day (September 14). For more information on eczema and the Irish Skin Foundation, click here. The helpline number is (01) 486 6280.