A new study presented at this year’s American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Annual Scientific Meeting highlights the need for mental health support in patients with atopic dermatitis.
Almost three-quarters of patients with atopic dermatitis (AD) experience mental health distress associated with their health condition, according to a new study presented at this year’s American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting.1
Allison Loiselle, PhD, Senior Manager of Data Science & Research at the National Eczema Association, and colleagues recruited adults aged 18 and older with AD as well as caregivers of youth patients aged 8 to 17 years old October through November 2022. Participants completed an online survey to share their experiences. A total of 954 individuals participated in the study.
According to the study results, mental health concerns are prevalent for patients with AD yet they may not be communicating such with clinicians. Specifically, 72.6% of patients experienced poor mental health symptoms for 1-10 days within the preceding month. About one-fifth of participants (17.7%) indicated a more chronic nature of their mental health symptoms, with symptoms lasting more than 11 days. Less than one-half of patients (42.5%) had been asked about their mental health by their clinician, and about one-third of the respondents noted they did not disclose their symptoms with their clinicians. Not surprisingly, then less than half of the patients (45.1%) received referrals for mental health care services or other supports.
This study supports recent research exploring the link between mental health well-being and AD. Earlier this year, the results of a comprehensive literature search on improving psychological health outcomes in children found the psychological well-being was directly related to objective disease severity. Furthermore, the researchers noted improvements in psychological well-being were directly correlated with improvements in disease severity.2
Fortunately, behavioral interventions can also improve both the itch-scratch cycle as well as the psychological sequelae associated with AD. There is evidence that hypnotherapy, biofeedback, and mindfulness therapy can support patients and result in improvements.2
“People who don’t suffer with AD don’t understand how debilitating it can be,” Loiselle said in a press statement.3 “In addition to the terrible itching and dry, cracked skin, there are often sleep disruptions, and broader impacts on quality of life and overall well-being. Depression and anxiety are among the symptoms of those who deal with AD, and the chronic, unpredictable nature of this condition.”
“AD-related quality of life impacts can include social impairment, emotional and behavioral problems, and significant psychological problems, including depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation,” Tamara Hubbard, MA, LCPC, a member of the ACAAI Public Relations Committee, commented in a press statement.3
Hubbard works with parents of children with allergies; she added that the “relentless itching” and AD’s negative effects on appearance can play a toll. “It’s important for patients and healthcare providers to discuss mental health concerns, and to be aware of resources and trained mental health professionals who can help.” She emphasized the importance of finding effective treatments and working with mental health care professionals to help address the emotional and psychological toll of AD.
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1. Loiselle A, Johnson J, Begolka WS. Atopic Dermatitis Patient Experience with Discussing and Addressing Mental Health Concerns with Allergists. Poster presented at: 2023 ACAAI Annual Scientific Meeting; November 9-13, 2023; Anaheim, California.
2. Mostafa N, Smith SD. Improving Psychological Health Outcomes in Children with Atopic Dermatitis. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2023;16:2821-2827. Published 2023 Oct 10. doi:10.2147/CCID.S393254
3. Survey: 72% of Eczema Patients Suffered Poor Mental Health Symptoms for 1-10 Days in Past Month. News release. ACAAI; November 9, 2023.