Eczema patients’ lack of disease knowledge could lead to misinformed treatment choices

National Eczema Awareness Week, 2017

To mark National Eczema Week, Gladskin is releasing a new survey showing that two thirds of UK eczema patients don’t know bacteria play a role in their condition, whereas studies show the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus is present on the skin of over 70% of patients and is associated with the severity and flares of the eczema.​

Eczema affects the lives of over 6 million people in the UK and these new findings highlight and confirm the unrelenting nature of the skin condition with 80% of patients experiencing at least one flare-up in the past year, 90% in more severe cases.

The physical impact inevitably takes its toll psychologically, as 60% admits their eczema has a substantial emotional and social impact, noting the condition as the source of embarrassment, depression and self-consciousness. Notably, over a fifth of patients are too embarrassed to speak up and over a third of moderate to severe patients feel depressed.

“Eczema is an isolating condition. If patients are able to manage their symptoms effectively then improved self-esteem and confidence will follow. Through new research and awareness activities, people with eczema can begin to speak about their experience more openly while beginning to understand the underlying triggers. This way, patients can make informed decisions about treatment.” Comments Dr Bjorn Herpers, Clinical Microbiologist at the Regional Public Health Laboratory, Kennemerland, The Netherlands.

The gap in disease knowledge could be leading to misinformed treatment choices, with 40% of the patients surveyed not satisfied with their current treatment, and a fifth stating their symptoms are continuously present. Worryingly, 37% of eczema patients never see an improvement in their condition, this figure increases to 49% in more severe patients.

The research was carried out by market research company Brandkraft in several European countries on behalf of Gladskin and asked 270 patients and 48 carers in the UK a number of questions about how they live with and manage their eczema.

Staphylococcus aureus, including methicillin resistant S. aureus (MRSA), is thought to aggravate eczema symptoms through triggering an inflammatory response. However, antibiotics are rarely used for treatment, because they are known to take a ‘blanket’ approach by killing both the good and bad bacteria on skin. Also, their use induces resistance, making them unsuitable for long-term use.  

Increased education and information is key so that patients are aware of alternative treatments other than steroids and antibiotics. Staphefekt is an enzyme which targets only S. aureus bacteria, leaving the rest of the microbiome intact. Produced by Dutch biotech company Micreos, this enzyme, also called an 'endolysin', is the active ingredient in a series of new creams and gels marketed under the Gladskin brand for people with inflammatory skin conditions, including eczema. Gladskin's targeted bacteria-killing properties enable symptom-management, offering a novel long-term way to help patients get their eczema under control.

To help patients talk about their condition the National Eczema Society are calling for patients to ‘Eczpress yourself’ by sending a recording explaining their story and struggles to share on social media.

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