For Many Americans, Eczema is Much More than Just Skin Deep

Northwestern Medicine
Dermatology May 15, 2015
Woman holding her head in painMillions of Americans are affected by eczema, causing them to develop symptoms like dry skin, rash, inflammation and severe itch. Northwestern Medicine research has shown that eczema is also a life-altering chronic disease and major health burden that can lead to the development of diabetes and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

“Eczema is not just skin deep,” said Jonathan Silverberg, MD, PhD, MPH, Northwestern Medicine dermatologist and director of the Northwestern Multidisciplinary Center for Eczema. “There are a number of other medical and mental health conditions that are related to eczema. The classic situation for many with eczema is that they are chronically itchy and sleep deprived due to their eczema and allergies. The result is that their professional lives and personal relationships begin to suffer.”
Many individuals with eczema also have sleep disorders, asthma, hay fever and other allergies, and even psychological issues like depression, and the eczema itself can exacerbate these associated medical problems. Other Northwestern Medicine research has even shown that eczema is a risk factor for bone fractures and other accidental injuries.

“Many eczema patients who are prescribed medication for itch are often given sedating antihistamines or steroids, but those medications may come at a price,” said Silverberg, who is also an assistant professor at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and senior author of the study*. “Sedatives cause fatigue, and steroids can lead to bone density problems and osteoporosis.”

To help bring more awareness to the problems individuals with eczema face, Northwestern Medicine is supporting the National Eczema Association’s (NEA) annual Itching for a Cure* walk this Sunday, May 17, starting at 8:30 a.m. on the Norris Center east lawn at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. Proceeds from the NEA’s Itching for a Cure walk will help advance research for a cure and further eczema advocacy. Donate or register for the walk.*

Learn more about eczema or schedule an appointment at the Northwestern Multidisciplinary Center for Eczema.

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