Powerful steroids could be avoided in many cases of childhood eczema

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An expert at the University of Sheffield will be talking about the causes for the increased incidence of eczema in children in a Channel Four documentary, Allergic to Everything on Thursday 30 June at 9pm.

Dr Cork will argue that better education and lifestyle changes could prevent many children from needing powerful steroid treatments for the skin condition, and that more specialists are needed to effectively treat those with more severe eczema.

The documentary follows patients in Dr Michael Cork’s eczema clinic at Sheffield Children’s Hospital. During the programme Dr Cork offers advice to parents whose children suffer from the skin condition and explains how to use treatments.

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 harbour 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. Since the 1960s the number of children suffering from eczema has risen from 4 per cent of the populations to 24 per cent.

"One of the problems we have in the UK s 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. The cases we see in clinic are obviously the most severe, but for children with milder cases there are simple lifestyle changes that can make a difference.

"Some of the simplest changes are to ensure that any skin products you use are non perfumed and designed for sensitive skin. Another is to ensure that bedding is washed weekly at 60 degrees to ensure that dust mites are killed.

"I hope that this programme increases awareness of eczema and its causes. Only with better education can we improve the control of atopic eczema."

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