Researchers followed kids with eczema over time and
found that at least 80 percent of those surveyed at every age had
the condition, up to age 26.
"This is a pretty persistent disease," Dr. David Margolis told
Reuters Health. "Probably a lot of the adults that have dermatitis
had it as children."
Margolis is the study's senior author from the Perelman School of
Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Eczema is a common skin disorder, especially among children, marked
by itchy, red skin. Between 10 and 20 percent of children experience
symptoms of the condition, according to the National Institutes of
"If you look at dermatologic textbooks over the past 20 years . . .
it's pretty much assumed that by the time they're 10 or 12, the
majority of them won't have symptoms anymore," Margolis said.
For the new study, he and his colleagues used data from a registry
of eczema patients that have been followed since 2004, when they
were between the ages of two and 17.
After they were enrolled in the trial, the children and teens
received surveys through the mail every six months. Each survey
asked if they'd had eczema symptoms within the last six months.
The study is funded by a grant from Valeant Pharmaceuticals, a
company that makes a drug used to treat eczema.
The researchers found that at every age throughout the study — from
two to 26 years — more than 80 percent of the participants reported
eczema symptoms or were still using medications to treat the
It wasn't until the participants were 20 years old that half of them
had recorded at least one six-month period as being symptom- and
treatment-free, they write.
"We're not saying that (people's eczema is) more severe or less
severe," Margolis said. "We're just saying it's going to be a
persistent problem that's probably not going to go away when they
turn 10 or 12."
The results jibe with a recent study that found an equally high
prevalence of eczema among adults as in children.
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Dr. Jonathan Silverberg, an author of that study, wrote an
editorial accompanying the new report in JAMA Dermatology.
It could be that asking people to report whether they have
symptoms or are using any eczema treatments is a better way to
estimate the condition's prevalence among adults than seeing whether
they actually meet the clinical definition, he writes.
Alternatively, Silverberg told Reuters Health, it's possible that
people with eczema drop off their doctor's radar because they had
been unhappy with the available treatments.
"We now have a number of really promising therapies that are
emerging that are really targeting eczema," said Silverberg, of the
Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago.
"We're at a point now where our ability to manage eczema has gotten
so much better that there is no reason for people to suffer with the
itch and symptoms," he said.
Margolis said it's important for people who believe they have eczema
to talk with their doctor about treatments.
"We're not saying you're going to have it every day of your life,"
he said. "These figures are saying you're going to have periods
where it goes away."
Source: http://bit.ly/1i8dU9l and
Dermatology, online April 2, 2014.
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