I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Pfizer, Inc. to write about the signs, symptoms, and treatments available for eczema/atopic dermatitis in communities of color. All opinions are my own.
It’s that time of year when we start to hear a lot about eczema or atopic dermatitis. And a lot of us moms ask: what does that mean for my child?
When my son was first diagnosed with eczema and allergies and asthma ALL IN THE SAME APPOINTMENT, I was overwhelmed! I spent a lot of time doing research and looking for different resources for kids who looked like us.
I remember wishing there was a blog post or someone I knew that had experience with it!
That’s why I was so happy to work with Med-IQ to help generate awareness about eczema, specifically it’s signs and symptoms. Med-IQ is an accredited medical education company that provides an exceptional educational experience for physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals.
I sat in on a zoom panel led by Candrice R. Heath, MD and Andrew F. Alexis, MD, MPH to talk about Eczema. I wanted to share what I learned because, like i said earlier, I wish there had been something like this when Pookah was newly diagnosed.
So what is Eczema?
More than 31 million Americans have some form of eczema with 6.6 million reporting moderate to or severe symptoms. Atopic Dermatitis, a chronic form of eczema, often develops early in life ( like it did with Pookah) and can persist into adulthood.
Eczema is a red, itchy rash that can happen any time of year, but is often worse in the winter months. Although for some patients, it worsens in the summer due to the heat and humidity.
It is an intrinsic process influenced by the environment but not caused by the environment.
During the call, we learned that patients with darker skin, might not present as redness, but rather as dark spots or itchy dark spots that get thicker over time.
Atopic dermatitis presents differently on pigmented skin tones and can appear grey or purplish or darken affected skin. And once it resolves, it can leave pigmentary changes, either darker or lighter pigmentation for weeks or months.
This presents an additional impact on patients of color. Nummular eczema is often misdiagnosed as ringworm in patients of color because of the circular rashes.
Which is exactly what happened to Pookah. I took him to the allergist and she was like..wait..that’s not ringworm! SMH. If you look closely at his forehead, you can still see it.
The point is, just the differences in presentation due to race and skin pigmentation can and does contribute to delays in diagnosis.
What Causes it?
Atopic dermatitis is most commonly associated with other allergic/atopic conditions such as allergies, asthma, hay fever and food allergies ( like Pookah).
But that is not the case with all cases. Some patients may have a genetic disposition that causes their skin to be more reactive, and family members commonly have asthma, seasonal allergies and/or atopic dermatitis.
Covid and Eczema.
We noticed a few months into the pandemic that Pookah had irritated skin and patches of eczema showing up again! According to the panel, the increased use of hand sanitizers and increase in handwashing had irritated his skin and is likely doing the same for many patients.
Due to social distancing it may be hard to get in to see your Doctor,but Telemedicine is a great alternative way to check in and get advice.
Treatment if your child is diagnosed with Eczema .
Atopic eczema is chronic and doesn’t just “go away”. The goal of treatment should be to reduce flare-ups instead of quick fixes when they do occur. A lot of parents simply take their children to their pediatrician for treatment, but you may be recommended to a Dermatologist in moderate to severe cases.
It’s important to be an advocate for your child and know what to look for!
Whew, that was a lot right? But hopefully, if you think your child has eczema and or want to know more, I hope this helps.
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