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Life is precious. We only get one chance at life, and while you are always encouraged to take care of your body, sometimes a person might have a disease that may be beyond their control, such as atopic dermatitis. October is National Eczema Awareness Month, so I wanted to take the time to talk about this skin disease that impacts so many lives.
Atopic dermatitis is a chronic form of eczema¹ that is characterized by unpredictable flare-ups triggered in part by a malfunction in the immune system,2,3,4,5 even in the absence of an infection. Symptoms can include red rashes, intense itch, dryness, cracking, and oozing of the skin, and they can occur on any part of their body.¹ In addition to chronic physical symptoms, people with atopic dermatitis may be affected by the disease – psychologically with stress, embarrassment and anxiety, socially and even professionally – as they deal with the frustration of ongoing physical symptoms.6,7,8 Intense itching and burning can be a constant frustration during the day and can keep patients up at night.7,8 Many people with atopic dermatitis feel self-conscious and embarrassed about their appearance, which can lead them to avoid social situations and can also contribute to difficulties with relationships and intimacy.6,7,8
In my opinion, it seems like there is currently a low awareness of the disease and its impact on patients. However, an estimated 1.6 million adults in the United States are living with uncontrolled moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis.9 Clearly, more education and awareness is needed.
The good news is that I recently learned of a new campaign, Understand AD, a national awareness campaign focused on educating people about moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis (AD), a serious, chronic inflammatory skin disease.1,2 Understand AD is a Sanofi Genzyme and Regeneron program in collaboration with the National Eczema Association and the Dermatology Nurses’ Association.
Fortunately, patients with the disease do have a champion who experiences the disease herself, and her name is Elizabeth Falkner.
An award-winning chef, restaurateur, media personality and author, 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.
In her thirties, as Elizabeth’s career as a chef was starting to take off, she developed red, flaky, super itchy lesions on her lower legs. These symptoms eventually also appeared on her hands. Her symptoms persisted and worsened. Not knowing what was going on with her skin and seeking relief, she went to her doctor and was diagnosed with moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis. Over the years, she has tried a variety of prescription medications and over-the-counter creams and ointments.
You can learn more about Understand AD by visiting www.UnderstandAD.com.
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, Makeba Giles Disclosure.
 http://www.mountsinai.org/patient-care/health-library/diseases-and-conditions/atopic-dermatitis#risk Accessed: May 24, 2016.
 National Institutes of Health (NIH). Handout on Health: Atopic Dermatitis (A type of eczema) May 2013. Available online: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Atopic_Dermatitis/default.asp. Accessed: May 24, 2016.
 Gittler JK, et al. Progressive activation of TH2/TH22 cytokines and selective epidermal proteins characterizes acute and chronic atopic dermatitis. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2012; 130:6. 1345-1354.
 Leung DYM, Boguniewicz M, Howell MD, Nomura I, Hamid QA. New insights into atopic dermatitis. J Clin Invest. 2004;113:651-657.
 Lebwohl MG, Del Rosso JQ, Abramovits W, et al. Pathways to managing atopic dermatitis: consensus from the experts. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2013;6(7 Suppl):S2-S18
 Misery L, Finlay AY, Martin N, et al. Atopic dermatitis: impact on the quality of life of patients and their partners. Dermatology. 2007;215:123-129.
 Zuberbier T, Orlow SJ, Paller AS, et al. Patient perspectives on the management of atopic dermatitis. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2006;118:226-232.
 Eichenfield LF, Tom WL, Chamlin SL, et al. Guidelines of care for the management of atopic dermatitis. Section 1. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014;70:338-51.
 Adelphi Final Report, data on file
US-ILF-13170 | US.DUP.16.09.047