LONDON, April 11, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- New survey data released today demonstrate that childhood eczema can have a detrimental effect on quality of life not only for the children who live with the disease, but also for their families.[1a] The survey, which was carried out in eight countries across Europe, examines the impact of eczema on European children through the eyes of the parents who care for them.

The survey findings show that childhood eczema can negatively affect all aspects of life, from participation in education to self esteem, in particular for children with moderate or severe form of the disease.1a Children with moderate and severe eczema miss out on school or nursery as well as sport and play - over a quarter (27%) of children miss up to five days of school a year due to their disease.[1b] Furthermore, nearly one fifth (18%) miss out on sport and play due to their eczema.[1c] This has an impact on parents too: over a quarter (26%) of parents caring for a child with moderate and severe eczema have to miss time at work due to their child's illness.[1d]

Worryingly, 50% of parents of children with moderate and severe eczema feel that the condition has a negative effect on their child's self esteem.[1e] Almost one third of parents report that children living with moderate and severe eczema experience frustration (32%) and feeling different to other children (30%)[1f] and parents also believe that their child feels 'self-conscious' and 'sad' some of the time because of their condition.[1g] Significant pain and discomfort, sleeping problems and mood swings are all problems experienced by one in four children with moderate and severe eczema.[1h]

"While parents of children living with eczema know the impact that the disease can have on children and families, it isn't always easy for other people to understand," said Margaret Cox, Chief Executive, National Eczema Society (UK). "We welcome the findings of this survey in the hope that they will help everyone involved in the care of children with eczema to understand the challenges they face. Recognising the emotional toll that eczema can take is an important step towards helping to identify how we can better help these children to live and enjoy their childhoods to the full."

Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is an incurable skin disease which affects between 5% and 20% of children in developed countries.[2] In children, 60% of eczema is diagnosed under the age of one year.[3] Once the disease has emerged, a child will usually experience a cycle of 'flare ups' followed by periods of remission when the disease will appear to have gone away and the skin looks as if it has returned to normal. Commonly, 2 out of 3 children with eczema 'grow out of it' by their mid-teens.[4]

Eczema can cause disruptions to family daily routine, a child suffering from moderate and severe eczema can be affected for a significant proportion of time each month and each year.

Almost two thirds (65%) of children with moderate and severe eczema are affected for up to 10 days per month1 and a quarter experience between five and 10 flares per year.[1] Almost one third (32%) of children with moderate and severe eczema experience flares that last for up to two weeks at a time.[1]

The survey revealed that flare prevention or reduction is a priority for parents. Parents of children with moderate and severe eczema feel that all aspects of family life would be improved and that their child's quality of life would be improved if he or she experienced fewer flares.[1] Over one third believe that this would transform their child's quality of life for the better.[1] Parents stated pain relief as the most important treatment outcome and approximately a quarter (24%) of parents of children with moderate and severe eczema identified failure to prevent flares as the biggest problem with their current treatment.[1]

"Eczema has a far more debilitating impact on a child's life than most people understand. We manage my son's itching by constantly moisturising his skin - which only serves to make him feel even more different from his friends." said Suzanne Johns from Bradford, England, whose 7-year old son was diagnosed with eczema at birth.

"Eczema is far more than dry skin or a bit of an itch. Eczema can demand an all consuming lifestyle and coping techniques which need to be embraced by not only the sufferer, but their family as well. Only when people fully understand the far reaching impact of this relentlessly itchy, intolerable skin condition can we hope for better treatment and acceptance."

Eczema is a complicated disease for which, at present, there is no cure. There are a range of treatments available to help to minimise the impact of eczema. Some patients may need treatments that are designed to be used regularly to prevent flare ups from happening. Other treatments are used for a shorter period of time to treat a flare up and help the skin to heal.[5]