Eczema in Social Groups

Atopic eczema has a familial tendency.

I’m sure few people will dispute this fact as it has been well researched and reported.

Atopic eczema is more predominant in upper class children.

This ‘fact’ on the other hand is less widely known or accepted. Whilst studies have been carried out and there appears to be a definite trend the results have been inconclusive especially when trying to determine a reason for this trend.

You wouldn’t think that because you have a better job, bigger house or more money in the bank that you are more prone to developing eczema. However this seems to be the case.

It is possible that it is not merely the social class that you are born into but rather a range of environmental factors that plays a part in your developing eczema. The upper class may use different floor coverings and heating methods which influence house dust mite and the humidity of the air – two factors that are known to trigger eczema.

Other environmental factors may include an over-use of showers and soaps, decreased exposure to ultra violet light and increased close contact with pets.

Higher maternal age and maternal diet may also be a factor in the incidence of eczema in the higher social classes, as may the diet of the child who develops eczema.

It is also possible that parents in the higher socio economic bracket are more prone to seek medical advice for skin ailments so that even the mildest of eczema cases are reported. Parents in the lower socio economic bracket may be less inclined to seek medical advice leading to only the most severe cases being reported.

Whilst it is generally accepted that eczema is more prevalent in upper class children the reasons for this are merely theories with no confirmed evidence for the trend at this stage.

Mel Sinclair, RN