“Atopic Dermatitis at a Glance” It is more than just an Itch!

Beirut, Lebanon – June 2, 2020 – Sanofi organized an online webinar titled “Atopic Dermatitis at a Glance” with the aim to raise awareness on the disease in Lebanon. The webinar was led by Prof. Fouad El Sayed, President of the Lebanese Dermatology Society and Prof. Carla Irani, President of the Lebanese Society of Allergy & Clinical Immunology. Members of the media were invited to join the informative and educational session where experts shared their knowledge and expertise around the topic.

Atopic dermatitis (AD), also known as Eczema, is a chronic immune-mediated systemic disease that is incurable and can greatly impact the life of patients and their families. The disease affects up to 2–10% of adults worldwide, with a higher percentage in adolescents and pediatrics, who see its effects on their skin – such as redness, swelling and lesions – and also feel its debilitating impact on their everyday lives – including persistent itching, cracked, crusty and oozing skin. It is more than just a ‘skin disease’ as for many, living with atopic dermatitis evokes a wide range of negative emotions, including sleep disturbance (5-7 nights per week) for AD patients, symptoms of anxiety, symptoms of depression and isolation.

During the webinar, experts shed light on clinical signs and symptoms caused by AD, specifically skin lesions and itching. Patients with Atopic Dermatitis present with acute and often persistent or relapsing skin lesions characterized by skin reddening (erythema), swollen pimply skin (papules), and scaly plaques accompanied with intense, protracted itching that is often debilitating. These skin lesions predominantly appear on skin folds (flexural folds), face and neck, upper arms and back, hands, feet, fingers and toes. Itching, on the other hand is one of the most burdensome symptoms for AD patients and can be very debilitating.

“A study enrolling 380 moderate-to severe adult AD patients, showed that 61% reported severe or unbearable itch; 86% reported daily presence of itch and 63% reported itching at least 12 hours a day; 77% reported moderate to extreme pain or discomfort”, stated Prof. Carla Irani, President of the Lebanese Society of Allergy & Clinical Immunology. Prof. Irani further discussed disease exacerbations, defined as episodes of worsening symptoms or increasing disease severity, that are common in adults with Atopic Dermatitis and typically require treatment or escalation of therapy by saying: “Exacerbations of signs and symptoms (e.g. flares) are frequent, unpredictable, and disruptive: severe AD patients suffer from these more than half of the year. Adult patients feel helpless (31%), anxious (40%), and irritated (31%) “quite a lot” when they think about a new disease exacerbation.”

Regarding the treatment and management of the disease, it was underlined that treating AD in adults can be challenging due to the benefit/risk profiles of topical and systemic therapies, making the disease a constant burden on patients. According to Prof. Fouad El Sayed, President of the Lebanese Dermatology Society, “more than half of patients with moderate-to-severe AD have an uncontrolled disease, which leads them to have more impairment in work productivity especially during an exacerbation, where 10% of their working time is affected, versus Non-AD controls and similar impairment versus psoriasis patients.” He further explains the substantial reductions in health-related quality of life (HRQoL), particularly social functioning and psychological well-being in adult Atopic Dermatitis patients worldwide. “The scale of impact on patients’ HRQoL directly relates to symptoms and disease severity. Studies demonstrate a similar or larger impact on health-related quality of life measures in patients with AD, when compared with type 2 diabetes and psoriasis. There are gaps in current treatment options, as studies suggest that treatment failure rates within the current treatment landscape are high. Up to 78% of adults with moderate and severe disease do not experience significant improvements despite current treatment”, he concluded.

Awareness on Atopic Dermatitis (also known as Eczema) is still minimal yet it can greatly impact the life of patients and their families, so gaining knowledge on the disease and implementing a suitable support system focusing on the physical and mental well-being of the patients are important to help them navigate through this difficult journey.

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