Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, appears to be more prevalent in children than in adults that people often think that the condition would go away in children by the time they reach adolescence. A new study, however, suggests that this belief isn't likely true.
In a study published in JAMA Dermatology April 2, researchers followed more than 7,100 children between 2 and 17-years old who started to show symptoms of eczema when they were, on average, less than 2-years old. The subjects were regularly surveyed every six months asking if they showed eczema symptoms within the period.
The researchers found that more than 80 percent of the subjects had symptoms of eczema such as having itchy and scaly rashes on the skin, or were treating their condition with medication until they were 26-years old. The researchers also noted that for the next five years, 64 percent of the subjects did not have any six-month period that they did not apply treatment for eczema. Only when they reached 20-years old that half of the subjects experienced having at least one six-month period that they were free of the symptoms and the treatment.
The researchers, however, noted that while the subjects had at least one period that they were free of eczema treatment and symptoms when they reached 20-years old, it does not mean that their skin condition went away.
"In our PEER cohort, during the second decade of life most enrollees were very likely to have had at least one period when their skin was clear while not requiring medications," the researchers said. "However, this finding did not persist and should not be confused with a 'permanent' remission in that at most ages the majority of enrollees had symptoms and were using medications."
It was previously held that up to 70 percent of children who have eczema would grow out of their condition by the time they reach 12-years old. Study researcher David Margolis of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and her colleagues, however, said that their findings suggest that eczema does not likely go away in most children who show mild to moderate symptoms.
The researchers also urge doctors who treat young patients with mild to moderate eczema to inform them and their caregivers that their condition may possibly be lifelong.