Scientific studies and patient testimonials have firmly demonstrated that atopic dermatitis (AD) is much more than a skin disease, with impacts that can affect virtually every aspect of life. In addition to these AD-specific impacts…
Published On: Sep 15, 2016
Last Updated On: Jul 15, 2021
Results from an National Eczema Association (NEA) survey of eczema parents and caregivers show that at least one in five children with eczema, including the chronic form known as atopic dermatitis, will be bullied at school this year because of their disease.
Eczema can negatively impact a child’s life in both seen and unseen ways, affecting students’ self-esteem, mood, self-confidence and ability to establish and manage relationships. In the same NEA survey, more than 75 percent of parents of children who have been bullied due to their eczema report their child experienced lowered self-esteem as a result.
“Medically treating and managing eczema is important – but so are understanding and addressing the psychosocial challenges of this disease,” says Amy Paller, M.D., Director of the Northwestern University Skin Disease Research Center. “The recent NEA survey correlates with research I’ve co-authored in the past, showing a link between bullying related to chronic eczema and a decrease in self-esteem and self-confidence. This can have a tremendous long-term impact on their lives.”
Children with eczema often must cope with a lack of understanding and fear from their classmates. Teasing, taunting or bullying related to their appearance can often lead to isolation. NEA now offers a valuable resource for both parents and educators to better understand the physical and behavioral impacts related to eczema in the classroom – the Eczema: Tools for School guides, available free for download at https://nationaleczema.org/school.
The Eczema: Tools for School Guides provide information and advice to foster a positive experience for children with eczema, including strategies for raising disease awareness in class, recommendations for building an eczema school care kit and a list of books and movies aimed at raising self-esteem, promoting positive thinking and encouraging understanding of people who are different. An educator guide also offers a useful work page for teachers and parents to develop an action plan to support the student with eczema at school.
“At an age when peers are learning basic skills of social interaction, children with eczema are often singled out and even bullied because of symptoms like visibly dry, red, inflamed skin or scratching. Yet our survey showed that nearly 60 percent of parents believe that their child’s teacher does not understand eczema,” says Julie Block, NEA President and CEO. “We encourage parents and caregivers to share our ‘Tools for School’ guide with their child’s teachers, so that together, educators, parents and students are aware of what the chronic condition, eczema, really is and the psychosocial impact it may have on a child’s self-esteem.”
Managing eczema in school can prove difficult for both children with the disease and their teachers. An ordinary day at school is filled with possible triggers that can aggravate eczema symptoms – from carpets to outdoor activities to standard soaps – making everyday activities like recess or arts and crafts more difficult. School stress is another less visible but still important classroom trigger. Both the symptoms and treatment of eczema can be stressful for children, as can the social and emotional consequences of the condition.