Lifestyle changes and poor education cause increase in Atopic Eczema

In the 1960’s 4% of children in the UK suffered from eczema. Today’s figures show that there are now 24% of the children in the UK affected with the condition.

So what has changed?

Dr Michael Cork from the University of Sheffield, UK believes that the increase is the result of poor education regarding the condition and changes in our lifestyle. Dr Cork runs the eczema clinic at the Sheffield Children’s Hospital and whilst he admits that in the clinic he sees mainly the more severe cases, he believes that for children with milder eczema, some simple lifestyle changes would make a difference.

Lifestyle changes coupled with better education could see many children no longer requiring the powerful steroid treatments they now rely on.

Dr Cork explains, “Over the past fifty years both our environment and the way we live have changed considerably. For example, in the ’60s there were few fitted carpets or central heating, which harbor dust mites and we now wash more often. The soap and detergent products we use when we wash break down the skin barrier, allowing irritants and allergens to penetrate into the skin and set off an inflammatory response.”

Not enough specialists

Dr Cork went on to say, “One of the problems we have in the UK is that there are far too few specialists to deal with this increasing problem. And a lack of education means that parents often don’t know about simple changes that could prevent their children from getting eczema, or lessen their symptoms.”

  • Use mild skin care products that are not perfumed and are especially designed for sensitive skin.
  • Avoid over exposure to water especially hot water.
  • Wash bed linen weekly in hot water to kill off dust mites.
  • Take mats and carpets outside and shake out weekly.
  • Avoiding gardens with high levels of pollens.

And the list goes on.

Simple lifestyle changes that I am sure most parents would be only to eager to make if only they were sufficiently educated to know of the benefits.

“Only with better education can we improve the control of atopic eczema.” Concludes Dr Cork.

Mel Sinclair, RN