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If you only knew what life is really like for patients with eczema

30 January 2024 - Dr Kate Annear

An information and treatment maze

Formative research tells us that many people living with eczema are facing significant challenges in understanding how to best manage their condition and in navigating the treatment maze. Inconsistencies in educational materials and guidance at crucial stages can leave individuals and parents of children with eczema feeling challenged and overwhelmed from the start.  

This is compounded by the vast range and volume of treatment options available., The choices can be overwhelming and made even more daunting by the often-vague accompanying instructions such as “use twice a day”, “use after showering”, “use for this part of the body” or “use for sensitive parts of the body”. Even health professionals can find these instructions a challenge to interpret.

And if this wasn’t already confusing enough, patients are also left to navigate instructions from multiple care providers who often provide contradicting information. The use of topical corticosteroids is a good example of this. Consumers could be told to apply liberally, sparingly, or judiciously, to use a fingertip or to think in terms of number of tubes, to use for one week, or two weeks or until the eczema goes away. 

Compounding all of this is the limited time available for patients to work out day-to-day practicalities of treatment and management with their health professionals. Time is a premium for all, but sadly when it comes to eczema management it’s the patient who pays the price.

Dr Google will see you now

In desperation, many patients turn to the internet where they encounter a unique range of “specialists”, often through social media, and a minefield of misinformation and disinformation, particularly regarding the use of topical corticosteroids. Desperation can also lead to demand for alternative and questionable remedies that invariably disappoint and often contribute to the financial burden of the condition. And for patients who hear about new treatments but are not eligible to access them, the system may seem to be unfair, leading to distrust of health professionals and the health system which seemingly fails to provide the help they need.

Where to from here? 

The Quality Use of Medicines Alliance aims to address these challenges through a multifaceted program of activities that will improve management and quality of life for patients living with eczema.

For health professionals, a variety of opportunities will be made available including face-to-face education, peer group learning, webinars, podcasts, decision algorithms, communication videos and an action plan for use in patient consultations. For consumers there will be bespoke resources such as videos, digital content and a dedicated information hub comprising trusted sources of information. Together, these opportunities are set to make life better for the 3 million Australians living with eczema.

It's time to end the struggle for eczema sufferers.

Eczema webinar and additional resources

The Eczema Equation: Burden of disease and challenges in management is a free webinar providing an up-to-date overview of eczema and its challenges. 

Further opportunities to improve eczema management will be available for health professionals on the Medcast QHUB.

Dr Kate Annear
Dr Kate Annear
Dr Kate Annear MBBS(Hons), DCH, MPH, FRACGP is an experienced GP based in Sydney, specialising in women's and children's health. She has a special interest in public health and medical education. Kate is the clinical lead for all health professional education on QHUB for the QUDTP project. 
Kate was previously a Medical Advisor at NPS MedicineWise where she was involved in the development and implementation of projects including the safe use of medicines for older people and chronic kidney disease. Kate is experienced in hosting webinars and podcasts exploring issues related to the quality use of medicines.

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