Eczema is more than skin deep. Just ask anyone who suffers from the condition.
People who suffer form eczema have dry, red blotches on their skin. They look different, and they feel different. But it is not necessary for them to be treated differently.
It is however an unfortunate way of our society that people who look different are treated differently and are often made to feel alienated.
They are bullied.
A 2008 international survey backed by the National Eczema Society of the UK and global patient support groups looked at the emotional effects of eczema. Any one who has suffered from eczema or lived with someone who does, knows of the emotional pain the condition causes.
In the study, ISOLATE (International Study Of Life with Atopic Eczema) interviewed 2000 people from eight countries (France, Germany, Spain, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, UK and US) who suffered from moderate to severe eczema. It is the largest and most comprehensive study of its kind ever conducted and supported by international patient associations and physicians.
27% of eczema sufferers have experienced bullying
The survey revealed that people with eczema generally experience isolation, depression, segregation and bullying as a direct result of their eczema. In fact no less than 27% of eczema sufferers have experienced bullying as a result of their unsightly skin. 10% of eczema sufferers also feel they have suffered discrimination at work due to their condition.
More than a minor inconvenience
Most people think of eczema as a minor inconvenience but for those with the condition it is far more than this. Over half of the people surveyed said they experienced bouts of depression as a result of their eczema.
Surprisingly only 26% of those surveyed had experienced any form of advice from their physician regarding the emotional aspects of the disease despite it obviously being a major concern for those with the condition.
75% of those surveyed said that the single most important improvement to their life would be to be able to control their eczema effectively. This in itself indicates the desperation of many eczema sufferers yet it is an area which is regarded with little importance.
Margaret Cox, Chief Executive of the National Eczema Society in the UK said: “Eczema is sometimes dismissed as a minor irritation, but this survey clearly demonstrates the suffering experienced by millions of people in all aspects of their everyday lives. It is hard to appreciate the misery that eczema can cause unless you, or a member of your family, have the disease. Even doctors may not fully appreciate the psychological and emotional burden faced by patients who have to live with this distressing condition.”
Bullying can affect any one at any age
Bullying can affect any one at any age, and in any environment. It is a behaviour that is definitely not acceptable yet we see it occurring regularly and repeatedly. Greater public awareness of eczema is required to help bring this problem under control. More emotional and psychological support is also a must to help the sufferers of eczema make the most of their day and improve the quality of their lives.