Writer: Jana Chan
Summary of Significance
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a skin condition that causes dry, easily irritated, and itchy skin. It is often accompanied by rashes on the face, inside the elbows, behind the knees, and joints. Scratching the skin can cause oozing and crusting of the rashes as well as lichenification, which is when the skin becomes thick and leathery, typically as a result of constant scratching (Medline Plus, n.d.). Moreover, individuals with eczema also have an increased risk of developing conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and bacterial skin infections. Eczema can also affect an individual mentally as well as physically. Individuals with eczema have a higher chance of having a behavioral or psychiatric disorder like ADHD or depression (Medline Plus, n.d.). Although eczema may get better or worse over time, it is often a long-lasting disease, meaning it could seriously alter lives especially because of its high economic burden—often as a result of prescription medications, hospital stays, and ER visits—that could stretch on for a majority of one’s life (Allergy & Asthma Network, n.d.).
The cause of eczema is currently unknown but it is likely a result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors. For example, air pollution and proximity to traffic may increase the risk of eczema in genetically predisposed individuals. On the other hand, those who live in rural areas often experience protective exposure through farm animals or microbes that could protect against an abnormal immune response (Hajar & Simpson, 2018). While its exact causes may not be known, it is commonly associated with allergies as indicated by the term “atopic” in its name. In fact, 60% of people with eczema develop asthma or allergic rhinitis and up to 30% of people with eczema have food allergies (Medline Plus, n.d.). This makes sense because irritants or allergens from outside or inside the body are the most common triggers of eczema symptoms. When entering the body, they alert the overactive immune system which produces the inflammation that ultimately causes these symptoms (“What is Eczema,”, n.d.). Thus, one can deduce that certain triggers may increase the chance of these symptoms. These range from dry skin to irritants such as fragrances, certain fabrics like wool and polyester, soap and household cleaners, antibacterial ointments, and more (“What is Eczema,”, n.d.). These irritants are very common in everyday use so one could see how often this would interfere with daily living.
Eczema is more common in children but can also begin during adolescence and adulthood, although in smaller numbers. Globally, 15–20% of children have eczema and 15% of children in the United States have eczema (Allergy & Asthma Network, n.d.). Since eczema impacts children at a relatively higher rate, it is important to note its potential repercussions for children. Children who attend school may experience teasing or bullying if they have eczema. This could result in psychological damage and lower self-confidence as they become more conscious of their self-image (United Kingdom National Health Service [NHS], n.d.). Additionally, lack of sleep often due to severe eczema flare-ups and itchy skin could affect mood, behavior, and performance in school (NHS, n.d.).
Recently, there seems to be a concerning growth in childhood eczema cases. According to the National Eczema Association, “the prevalence of childhood [eczema] has steadily increased from 8%–12% since 1997” (“Eczema Stats,” n.d.). Furthermore, a 2018 study that followed Norwegian children (younger than 6 years) with eczema from 2009-2015 also indicated an increase in the incidence rate of pediatric eczema, especially among urban populations (Hajar & Simpson, 2018; Mohn et al, 2018). They observed that the overall rate of incidence of eczema in these children increased from 0.028 per person-year to 0.034 per person-year in 2014 (Mohn et al., 2018). The study also found the incidence rate for children younger than one year increased from 0.052 per person-year to 0.073 per person-year (Mohn et al., 2018). It has grown abundantly clear that quick and decisive action needs to be done to address this issue because if not, these numbers could only continue to grow and the lives of many families and children will continue to be altered.
The author starts this part of the proposal by explaining what eczema is, specifically by explaining how it impacts the body and possibly why that happens. This helps her establish the significant impact of eczema on the lives of individuals. She then elaborates on its high prevalence with statistics to show just how many people are impacted by this condition daily. Everything she has just done works cohesively to back up her claim for the significance of this issue. Because her proposal is written to address the troubling increase of childhood cases of eczema, the information she provides above serves as the perfect context to start narrowing her topic because they show how more and more children could suffer from eczema if nothing is done. She examines its impacts specifically on children with eczema while providing studies and figures from well-respected journals and sources. Thus, she successfully supports her argument about the necessity of whatever this piece is proposing.
Allergy & Asthma Network. (n.d.). Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis) Statistics.
Hajar, T., & Simpson, E. L. (2018). The Rise in Atopic Dermatitis in Young Children. JAMA Netw
Medline Plus. (n.d.). Eczema. https://medlineplus.gov/eczema.html
Mohn, C. H., Blix, H. S., Halvorsen, J. A., Nafstad, P., Valberg, M., & Lagerløv, P. (2018). Incidence
Trends of Atopic Dermatitis in Infancy and Early Childhood in a Nationwide Prescription
Registry in Norway. JAMA Netw Open, 1(7). https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.4145
National Eczema Association. (n.d.). What is Eczema? https://nationaleczema.org/eczema/
National Eczema Association. (n.d.). Eczema Stats.
United Kingdom National Health Service (n.d.). Atopic Eczema: Complications.