Why some eczema patients fear using steroid creams


Why some eczema patients fear using steroid creams

In Summary

  • Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, usually develops in early childhood and often runs in families.
  • Scaly, itchy rashes are the main symptoms.
  • The condition can be treated using moisturizers, avoiding certain soaps and other irritants and with prescription creams and ointments containing steroids to relieve itching.

Many people with eczema, a common skin disease, may avoid creams and ointments that can help ease symptoms like itching and inflammation.

This is because they are afraid to try topical corticosteroids, a recent study suggests.

Also ReadSome skin creams bad news for eczema

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, usually develops in early childhood and often runs in families. Scaly, itchy rashes are the main symptoms.

The condition can be treated using moisturizers, avoiding certain soaps and other irritants and with prescription creams and ointments containing corticosteroids to relieve itching.

For the study, researchers examined results from 16 previously published studies and found as many as four in five people were afraid to use corticosteroids for eczema.

Between one third and one half of people who were prescribed steroid creams but also expressed concerns about them did not adhere to the treatment – meaning they didn’t use the creams and missed out on their benefits.

“Steroids have developed a bad reputation because of the potential side effects that come with improper or chronic use of high-potency steroids,” said senior study author Dr. Richard Antaya.

TEENS WITH ECZEMA

Another report released two months ago said adolescents with eczema who are prescribed steroid creams may not use their medicines as directed.

Part of the problem may be that teens have little contact with physicians and prefer to develop their own routines for using medicines instead of following the directions on their prescriptions, the study suggests.

Another issue is perhaps not surprising given their age: they want their medicine to instantly clear up any patches of skin reddened by eczema.

“Adolescents may feel embarrassed by the appearance of this skin (dry, red, inflamed), influencing their quality of life,” lead study author Dr. Richelle Kosse said by email.

“Adolescence is a life phase in which peers play a more important role.”

PROBIOTICS DURING PREGNANCY

Women who take probiotics while they’re pregnant and breastfeeding could be less likely to have children with eczema than mothers who don’t, a research review suggests.

Probiotic use during pregnancy and lactation was associated with a 22 percent lower risk of young children developing eczema, a common inflammatory skin disorder, the study found.

This is the equivalent of preventing 44 cases of eczema for every 1,000 children.

While the study wasn’t designed to prove how probiotics might prevent eczema, it’s possible that taking these supplements changes the composition of breast milk and influences the way a child’s immune system and skin develop, said senior study author Dr. Robert Boyle of Imperial College London and the University of Nottingham in the UK.

“There was already some evidence that probiotic exposure in early life may reduce risk of eczema in an infant,” Boyle said by email.

“But this study makes it clearer that maternal probiotics during pregnancy and while breastfeeding seem to protect infants from eczema, whereas probiotics added to an infant’s diet directly do not seem to protect infants from developing eczema,” Boyle added.

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