This research spotlight focuses on a paper from 2017. It explores the perceptions of control amongst people with eczema and parents of children with eczema in the UK.
In A Nutshell
- Eczema control means different things to different people.
- The various categories of control can be split into symptoms, psychological impact, treatments and scoring systems.
- The Proton Health app is a great way to assess overall eczema control because it includes all of the above themes.
It’s pretty common to talk about ‘controlling’ eczema. But what does that really mean? Is that when we’re not experiencing flare-ups, when we have no itching sensations or when it doesn’t affect our day-to-day life?
Researchers from the UK wanted to find out by understanding the perspectives of eczema sufferers and parents of those with eczema.
How They Did It
They recruited 36 participants for semi-structured interviews. This is when the conversations include both questions and open discussions to get as many insights as possible. The interviews, in this case, involved understanding what good eczema control meant to different people.
The interviews were then recorded and transcribed with a framework analysis to get the results. Framework analysis is a fancy method of analysing interviews by grouping the answers into different themes to answer the original question.
The results were surprising because there wasn’t a single answer that participants mentioned. Instead, 4 themes came from the research:
Theme 1 - Symptoms of control
Some participants felt that a reduction in symptoms such as itch and sleep loss was how they determined their control. But there were differences in the level of symptom control between participants.
Theme 2 - Eczema control goes beyond the skin
Many interviewees mentioned that controlling their psychological and social factors was significant. They also considered the impact of scratching on everyday activities as a way of being in control of their eczema.
Theme 3 - Stepping up and down treatment
This measure of control was influenced by the treatments a participant was using. So if they were using fewer treatments, they’d consider this reasonable control and vice versa.
Theme 4 - Using scoring systems
Many participants used self-reporting tools to measure their degree of eczema control. Most believed it was essential to measure their eczema frequently. However, they often felt this wasn’t realistic with the available tools.
What’s Does It Mean For You
The clear conclusion is that people's sense of control varies from person to person. Whilst some feel that reducing symptoms is a great day, others are happy when their social life isn’t affected. Either way, it’s important to remember that you aren’t alone and that eczema affects people differently.
A great way to improve your sense of control is by journalling frequently. The research is pretty staggering when it comes to regular journaling. It’s shown to enhance our sense of control and ability to handle unexpected situations (like flare-ups) much better.
The advantage of doing this using the Proton Health Skin Score is that you’ll also receive an analysis of your triggers and symptoms. So the above 4 themes are always covered!
Howells, L. M., Chalmers, J. R., Cowdell, F., Ratib, S., Santer, M., & Thomas, K. S. (2017). 'When it goes back to my normal I suppose': a qualitative study using online focus groups to explore perceptions of 'control' among people with eczema and parents of children with eczema in the UK. BMJ open, 7(11), e017731. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2017-017731