Thursday, November 10, 2016

Raising Awareness for Atopic Dermatitis

“Disclosure: This is a sponsored post by Sanofi Genzyme and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. as part of a paid program. All opinions are my own.”
Have you heard of atopic dermatitis? Whether the answer is yes or no, you may be surprised to learn the significant physical, emotional and psychological impact on people with the disease, myself included.
First off, what is this disease? Basically, it is a chronic form of eczema.1 Symptoms can include red rashes, intense itch, dryness, cracking, crusting and oozing of the skin, and they can occur on any part of the body.1 Some of the most common areas affected by atopic dermatitis include the knees, elbows, ankles, face, neck, feet, hands and wrists.2

Even though the symptoms of atopic dermatitis appear externally on the skin, they are fueled by a continuous cycle of underlying inflammation triggered by an overreaction of the immune system.2,3 The impact that this disease has on people who suffer from it (including me) can be difficult to manage. For me, it’s been devastating to my self-esteem and well-being at times.

While having atopic dermatitis can make me feel isolated, it’s comforting to know that I’m not alone and it is more common than I thought. An estimated 1.6 million adults in the United States are living with uncontrolled moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis. 4

When I have a flare-up, I don’t want to go out. The first time it showed up, I had no idea what it was. It was a very strange rash looking spot on my arm, and then I had it behind my ears, going down my neck. It was very scaly-looking and very noticeable. I felt self-conscious about it, and it was itchy and uncomfortable. I wanted to cover it up with makeup, but that didn’t work and definitely didn’t make it feel better. I didn’t know it was atopic dermatitis until I eventually went to a dermatologist when the rash wouldn’t go away.  

But now, for me, atopic dermatitis shouldn’t be something to be embarrassed about because I know that it’s not my fault, but it’s still incredibly hard to deal with it because the symptoms are visible for all to see. I think the reason so many people may feel self-conscious about it is namely because they don’t really talk about it. Dealing with atopic dermatitis, and keeping it from disrupting your life, starts with understanding it. That’s where Understand AD comes in as a way to help change the conversation on atopic dermatitis.  

Understand AD is a national awareness campaign focused on educating people about moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis and raising awareness about the physical and quality of life impact of the disease. The campaign is a Sanofi Genzyme and Regeneron program in collaboration with the National Eczema Association and the Dermatology Nurses’ Association. Celebrity chef Elizabeth Falkner (Food Network, Bravo’s Top Chef) is the spokesperson for the campaign. She has lived with the disease for more than 20 years. Elizabeth joined the Understand AD campaign because she wants to share her experience of living with moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis in order to help people understand what a life-impacting disease it can be. Atopic dermatitis has impacted so many parts of her life, and she wants to help create a community for people who may feel isolated and alone.

Understand AD released new survey data to help quantify the physical, psychological, social and professional impact on American adults living with the disease. The survey asked 505 U.S. adults (18 years of age and older) who self-reported being diagnosed with moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis a series of questions about their experience with the disease. The survey findings showed moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis may affect not only patients’ skin, but multiple aspects of their lives. Key findings include:

  • 53 percent of people living with moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis reported that their disease has negatively impacted their daily lives
  • 82 percent have made lifestyle modifications, such as avoiding social engagements, being in pictures and participating in sports/exercise
  • 55 percent reported that their confidence was negatively impacted due to their disease
  • 49 percent say their sleep has been negatively impacted by the disease, moderately or significantly
  • 23 percent of people feel depressed and 28 percent feel anxious due to their AD
  • 20 percent report that their AD has impacted their ability to maintain employment and 16 percent have made career choices that limit face-to-face interactions with others because of the disease

Having atopic dermatitis myself, these results aren’t surprising. I know firsthand what it is like to feel depressed and anxious because of my atopic dermatitis, and how it can change the way I feel about myself, impacting my self-esteem. As I mentioned before, there have been times that I haven’t even wanted to go out because I was embarrassed by my rashes. I have even tried to cover it up because I didn’t want others to see. It’s helpful knowing that I’m not alone in how I’m experiencing the disease.
To learn more about atopic dermatitis, please visit Through this site, you will be able to learn more about this disease as well as get connected with advocates like the National Eczema Association and the Dermatology Nurses’ Association. You will also be able to hear from celebrity chef Elizabeth Falkner (Food Network, Bravo’s Top Chef) and other people who are living with the disease.
I received compensation to write this post. Regardless, all opinions expressed are still 100% my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, Katrina Gehman Disclosure.

References Section:

1 Accessed: September 23, 2016.
2 National Institutes of Health (NIH). Handout on Health: Atopic Dermatitis (A type of eczema) May 2013. Available online: Accessed: September 23, 2016.
3 Leung DYM, Boguniewicz M, Howell MD, Nomura I, Hamid QA. New insights into atopic dermatitis. J Clin Invest. 2004;113:651-657.
4 Adelphi Final Report, data on file

(US-ILF-13560 | US.DUP.16.10.050)

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