Dermatologist: “Eczema is Not Just Skin Deep.”

JULY 28, 2016
Ryan Black
dermatology, atopic dermatitis, AD, eczema, eczema risks, dermatologists, AAD, American Academy of Dermatology, children's health, pediatrics, pediatric medicine, primary care, sleep, internal medicine, external medicine, family medicine, rashes, skin disease, immune health, sleep cycles, risks, press releaseFor millions of Americans, including as many as one in four children, the painful skin irritation of atopic dermatitis (AD, or eczema), may only be the tip of the iceberg.

A release published today by the American Academy of Dermatology details a litany of medical ailments that eczema patients may also find themselves at risk for. Dr. Jonathan Silverberg, MD, PhD, assistant professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and a Fellow of the Academy, says that atopic dermatitis “can have a serious impact on patients’ quality of life and overall health, both physically and mentally.”

The skin-level nature of eczema, however, is the genesis of those mental concerns. According to Silverberg, the rashes spur anxiety and depression. These issues can be exacerbated by sleep disturbance, which is quite common among AD sufferers.

Among the physical conditions that Silverberg alleges AD can predispose people to are asthma, food allergies, hay fever, and even obesity or cardiovascular disease. While the exact connections are unclear, the physician believes they may be the result of inflammation impacting the entire body, or from compromised overall immunity as a result of the aforementioned mental and sleep effects.

The disease may also open its victims up to increased chance of infection. Since it compromises the skin barrier, bacterial skin infections like cellulitis and impetigo can develop. Negative impacts on the immune system weaken the body’s ability to fight internal infections, as well.

Because of its ability to disrupt sleep patterns and thus lessen immunity, the negative effects of eczema can become infuriatingly cyclical and self-sustaining. “Atopic dermatitis can be extremely frustrating for patients,” Silverberg says, “but there are effective treatments available, as well as several new treatment options in development that look very promising.” He recommends that sufferers seek advice from a board-certified dermatologist for the best course of action. 


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