Public education on various health conditions by the media that includes mental illness and physical illnesses has been effective in getting people to better manage their specific conditions.
However, very little is known about Eczema which affects many people who include children and adults. In the U.S, Eczema affects about 10 percent to 20 percent of infants and about 3 percent of adults and children. I am sure, Singapore has its fair share of Eczema patients with some diagnosed with the ailment and others unaware that they have it.
Eczema is a term for a group of medical conditions that causes the skin to become inflamed or irritated – the most common type being atopic dermatitis or atopic eczema. The skin becomes itchy and rashes will appear. These rashes will appear on the face, back of the knees, wrists, hands, or feet. It may also affect other areas as well.
If we have sensitive skin and are not sure if Eczema has hit us, bathing too often or washing hands frequently will only cause harmful effects to the skin. This is why it is useful to see doctors who specialise in this area or at least see one who is knowledgeable in Eczema.
Generally, people fear what they don’t understand. For instance, some people might mistakenly believe that Eczema is contagious, when in fact it is not. Hence the need for public education on this health issue.
My recent encounter with this skin disease which was fortunately detected early by a knowledgeable and experience General Practitioner (GP) helped a great deal. She advised me to bathe only once a day, apply Eczema prone skin moisturizer and Eczema prone body wash, take omega 3 fish oil and use cloves when washing dishes or clothing.
The itchiness was so bad that I could not sleep at night and I began to feel depressed.
A bottle of Eczema prone skin moisturizer cost $42 and Eczema prone body wash is priced at around $29. As these products are rather expensive, perhaps the Ministry of Health could purchase these and offer it at discounted or affordable prices at the polyclinics and hospitals for the benefit and convenience of our patients. Even King Salmon Omega 3 fish oil which has several benefits can be made available here.
Together with medications to treat allergy and itchiness, the GP also prescribed oral steroids which will be tapered down as the conditions improves. She comforted me by saying that in cases such as mine, short-term dosage of oral steroids is needed rather than steroid cream, and will not adversely affect the bones.
More than 10 years ago, I was taken off a medication that caused rashes, and the good doctor reminded me to be mindful as my immune system is weak and thus the rash condition that I encountered a decade ago will return and on off.
The good news is that within a week of her medical care, the Eczema has been contained and I have every confidence of a recovery in due course.
For the record, Eczema is not contagious. It is always useful to share our life experiences when we have benefitted from such a health issue, so that those who might be prone to having Eczema will be well positioned to handle the situation better.
As such conditions vary with different people, it is best to seek medical advice and treatment from the professionals/experts and they include doctors from the National Skin Centre (NSC). NSC is based at 1 Mandalay Rd, Singapore 30820.
For all intents and purposes, this article is meant to raise awareness of Eczema. To this end, it would be helpful if the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the media, carry out public education on Eczema for everyone to have a clear understanding on this health issue.
In closing, patients trying to grapple with this skin illness, the vulnerable (who include the elderly lonely), understanding, empathy and structural support on the part of family members, friends, religious groups, grassroots leaders and the community can help the patients cope much better.
RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO
Disclaimer: These treatment and medications described in this article have worked well for me. Please consult a qualified doctor or specialist for your own condition/s.