VISIBLE PROBLEMS AND INVISIBLE IMPACTS

 

 

Around 15 million people in the UK are believed to be living with eczema and the numbers are rising rapidly.

Recent analysis of GP appointments reveals 28% increase consultations from 2009 to 20181.

Skin problems can cause deep distress and are often associated with feelings of stress, anger, depression, shame, embarrassment, low self-esteem and social isolation2

Having a skin condition on visible areas of skin is particularly distressing and many people avoid exposing these areas for fear of the reactions they will encounter. Lack of awareness means people with inflammatory skin conditions are sometimes mistaken for having a contagious skin disease, or a lack of hygiene — which is not the case.

However, having a skin condition on the face or hands, which is visible, or affecting the genitals, which can be acutely embarrassing, is known to increase the risk of distress3.

The SLSF research found

1 %

say their eczema, or psoriasis affects their hands and 29% have facial symptoms

1 %

confirm their skin condition is a source of increased stress and anxiety

1 %

say that their skin condition disturbs their sleep

1 %

admit their skin condition puts them off socialising

Given these levels of distress, it’s perhaps not surprising the almost a quarter (23%) choose clothes that cover their condition and 12% say it puts them off from playing sport.

Dr Nisa Aslam says, “There is so much evidence to show that huge numbers of people with skin conditions are struggling emotionally — and as stress exacerbates many skin problems this can become a toxic cycle.”

There is a range of effective treatments available from over the counter moisturisers and emollients to prescription creams, ointments, medicated tapes and medicines. Finding the most effective therapy is often a matter of trial and error, so it’s important to keep going back to your doctor, or dermatologist, for advice.”

Dr Nisa Aslam

Dr Aslam continues, “For anyone who has not experienced skin problems, or seen them at first hand, it is easy to underestimate the devastating impact skin conditions can have on people’s lives.”


“It’s also important to recognise that the severity of psychological symptoms are not necessarily linked to the severity of the skin problem — so what might seem a relatively mild problem for one patient can be a cause of intense anxiety and distress for another.”

References:

1 onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/cea.13783 [last accessed 18 Aug 2021]

Based on stats for 100 person years — up from 87.8% to 112. 100 divided by 87.8 x 24.2 (the difference) rounded to 28%

2 www.appgs.co.uk/publication/view/the-psychological-and-social-impact-ofskin- diseases-on-peoples-lives-final-report-2013/ (Page 9, 2.1)

3 www.appgs.co.uk/publication/view/the-psychological-and-social-impact-ofskin-diseases-on-peoples-lives-final-report-2013/ (Page 9, 2.3)