'It's like the bad guy in a movie who just doesn't die': A qualitative exploration of young people's adaptation to eczema and implications for self-care.
25 April 2019
Ghio D, Muller I, Greenwell K, Roberts A, McNiven A, Langan SM, Santer M.
Eczema is a common childhood inflammatory skin condition, affecting more than one in five children. A popular perception is that children ‘outgrow eczema’, although epidemiological studies have shown that, for many, eczema follows a lifelong episodic course.
To explore the perceptions of young people about the nature of their eczema and how these perceptions relate to their self‐care and adapting to living with eczema.
This is a secondary inductive thematic analysis of interviews conducted for Healthtalk.org. In total 23 interviews with young people with eczema were included. Of the 23 participants, 17 were female and six male, ranging from 17 to 25 years old.
Participants generally experienced eczema as an episodic long‐term condition and reported a mismatch between information received about eczema and their experiences. The experience of eczema as long term and episodic had implications for self‐care, challenging the process of identifying triggers of eczema flare‐ups and evaluating the success of treatment regimens. Participants’ experiences of eczema over time also had implications for adaptation and finding a balance between accepting eczema as long term and hoping it would go away. This linked to a gradual shift in treatment expectations from ‘cure’ to ‘control’ of eczema.
For young people who continue to experience eczema beyond childhood, a greater focus on self‐care for a long‐term condition may be helpful. Greater awareness of the impact of early messages around ‘growing out of’ eczema and provision of high‐quality information may help patients to manage expectations and support adaptation to treatment regimens.
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