How common is eczema in Australia?

Australia is among the countries with the highest prevalence of eczema or atopic dermatitis. The current prevalence of eczema in Australia is between 10 to 15 per cent of the population. Recent research conducted at the University of Melbourne showed that around one in three infants (38.5%) suffer from eczema. Most children with atopic dermatitis grow out of the disease when their skin matures, but about 10 percent will continue to suffer with eczema into adulthood.

Eczema does not discriminate by social, economic or ethnic groups. In the past few decades with no apparent cause or reason, there is a stiff rise in the incident of dermatitis, especially in developed countries. A few have linked this to overly hygienic practices in modern societies. For example: lots of cleansing agents, hot baths, bubble baths, hot showers daily with a lot of soap and skin scrubbing, multiple hand washes with antibacterial soaps and scrubbing. These are physical “abuses” to the skin and in turn compromises our skin barrier, which is the first line of defense against microorganisms. This may explain the lower incidence of dermatitis in underdeveloped countries, since soap and bubble baths etc. can be a luxury which many may not be able to afford.

The Eczema Association of Australasia estimates that the average out-of-pocket amount spent on products per year to treat one patient with AD is $425, with costs ranging from $13.50 to more than $2,000 per individual. As Heather Jacobs, the National President of the Eczema Association of Australasia, says in their website, eczema really is a common, frustrating and often debilitating skin disease that can have a significant physical and emotional toll on sufferers and their carers’ quality of life.

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