Eczema patients at 36% higher risk of suicide attempts, study finds

Eczema is a common skin condition that causes dry, itchy red patches on the hands, elbows and knees.

New research has shown that eczema sufferers had 36 per cent increased odds of suicide attempts.

This figure comes from a study that was published in the JAMA Dermatology medical journal on Wednesday.

The study also found that people with eczema are also 44 per cent more likely to have suicidal thoughts.

They analysed 15 previous studies that included 310,681 people with eczema, and 4.4 million patients without, in North America, Asia, Europe and Africa.

Researchers say that 18 million adults and 9.6 million children in the USA suffer from the condition.

The study suggests that it is important to screen eczema patients for possible signs of suicide and other mental health problems.

Dr Joel M Gelfand, a medical director at the University of Pennsylvania said that USA is currently facing an “epidemic in suicide” but that the link shown by the study was still just “a theory”.

“The causal role of inflammation and suicidal activity is not established yet,” Dr Gelfand said.

But the National Eczema Association has described the scientific link between stress and eczema.

Eczema – the facts

  • Eczema is scientifically known as ‘atopic dermatitis’
  • 15 million people in the UK affected
  • Symptoms include skin that is itchy, dry, red or cracked
  • Mostly affects hands, inside elbows and knee
  • Exact cause of eczema is unknown

According to their own research, “anxiety and stress are common triggers that cause eczema to flare up, which then creates more anxiety and stress.”

They recommend that those with the condition should practice relaxation techniques to avoid damaging their mental health.

Deep breathing and meditation can help, as well as soothing music and plenty of sleep.

Allergy UK estimates that up to 15 million people in the UK could suffer from eczema – around 1.7 million are children.

The condition is usually long-term but can improve and sometimes clear completely when children get older.

The exact causes of eczema are unknown, but people with allergies or other conditions like asthma or hay fever are more likely to develop it.

It can also be triggered by soaps, detergents and even the weather.

There is currently no official cure for eczema.

If you need someone to talk to the Samaritans are free to call on 116 123, or call CALM on 0800 58 58 58.

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