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It affects over 1.5 million people in the UK.1,2 In a survey, 80% report that it impacts their mood, mental health and well-being. But what is atopic dermatitis?

• Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema3
• New public awareness campaign Scratch Beneath the Surface uncovers the real impact of atopic dermatitis
• UK-wide survey of people with moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis uncovers mental health, relationships and sleep suffer because of this often life-long disease4


Guildford, UK – May 15, 2018 Launching today, Scratch Beneath the Surface is a new UK public health initiative created by Sanofi in collaboration with leading national charity, Allergy UK. The initiative aims to improve people’s understanding of atopic dermatitis, from what’s happening inside the body, to the emotional and psychological symptoms that can lie beneath the surface.

By improving awareness of atopic dermatitis, Scratch Beneath the Surface hopes to shift any misconceptions among the general public and combat the stigma related to the disease, which will in turn, lead to those affected feeling a greater sense of support and understanding.

Atopic dermatitis (also known as atopic eczema) is a long term, inflammatory disease caused in part by an overreaction of the body’s immune system.5 Physical symptoms can range from intense, persistent itching and skin dryness, to cracking, redness, crusting and oozing. When these symptoms become aggravated, for example, by scratching or skin irritation, it can lead to a cycle of flare-ups.5

“Atopic dermatitis is often dismissed as a simple skin condition or rash that can be soothed with moisturisers, but people don’t realise that it’s a long-term and potentially life-altering disease,” says Carla Jones, Allergy UK’s Chief Executive. “There is a huge sense of frustration amongst those affected, who feel that eczema and atopic dermatitis are often misunderstood. Even simple day-to-day tasks like walking up the stairs, bathing and getting dressed can be painful for someone experiencing a flare-up.”


Delving deeper into the real-life impact of atopic dermatitis

A new UK-wide survey of people with moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis4 found that the disease can impact every aspect of an individual’s life. Difficulty sleeping emerged as a significant problem, affecting 75% of those surveyed; with the constant itching and pain when trying to sleep, leaving people feeling tired and restless in the day.4

For some people, the impact of unpredictable flare-ups and feelings of self-consciousness can also lead to symptoms of anxiety or depression.4

  • 80% of survey participants reported that atopic dermatitis has a direct impact on their mood. In interviews, participants reported feeling anxious, especially in public and social settings, and feeling that they’re being looked at and judged by others4
  • 57% admitted they feel depressed because of their skin with some taking antidepressants to try and help the situation4
  • 60% of male participants and 55% of female participants noted that their self-esteem and self-confidence is frequently impacted due to their skin condition4
  • 56% reported finding it hard to be intimate with their partner when their skin is bad4

Despite affecting over one and a half million adults in the UK, too few people understand the inflammatory and unpredictable nature of atopic dermatitis.For many people, it’s the unseen consequences, the emotional and psychological impact hiding beneath the surface that makes the disease most difficult to live with,” says Dr Anthony Bewley, Consultant Dermatologist at Whipps Cross University Hospital and the Royal London Hospital. “Itchy skin is considered to be one of the worst symptoms; it can be physically debilitating. However, the associated restlessness, sleepless nights, and sore, broken skin can have a severe impact on a person’s daily functioning, mental health and self-esteem.”


The patient perspective

“Just trying to fall asleep can take up to two hours because of itching and general restlessness. Staying asleep is another issue; four hours is all I can manage most nights,” commented one survey participant.4

“My partner now sleeps in our spare room which is heart-breaking. I keep him awake with my scratching – he said I shake the bed I scratch so viciously,” said another.4

I'm not sure that people could ever understand how it feels or how debilitating it can be,” commented another.4


Scratching beneath the surface

“Diseases like atopic dermatitis are often trivialised and seen as ‘just a skin problem’, thus the real-life burden is not always recognised,” said Dr Jasmin Hussein, Head of Immunology – Dermatology & Respiratory at Sanofi UK & Ireland. “This is why Scratch Beneath the Surface has been developed by Sanofi in collaboration with Allergy UK – to increase understanding towards those living with atopic dermatitis and raise awareness of the reality of this sometimes life long, life changing disease.”


Visit www.scratchbeneaththesurface.co.uk to learn more about atopic dermatitis, including how to spot the signs and symptoms of the disease. You will also find useful information about the inflammatory nature of atopic dermatitis and real-life insights from people who live with the disease every day.

About Sanofi

Sanofi is dedicated to supporting people through their health challenges. We are a global biopharmaceutical company focused on human health. We prevent illness with vaccines, provide innovative treatments to fight pain and ease suffering. We stand by the few who suffer from rare diseases and the millions with long-term chronic conditions.

With more than 100,000 people in 100 countries, Sanofi is transforming scientific innovation into healthcare solutions around the globe.

For more information please visit www.sanofi.co.uk.

1. Nutten S. Atopic Dermatitis: Global Epidemiology and Risk Factors. Ann Nutr Metab 2015;66 (suppl 1): 8–16.

2. Office for National Statistics. 2014 UK mid-year population estimate. Available at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/populationprojections/bulletins/nationalpopulationprojections/2015-10-29 (Accessed April 2018).

3. NHS Choices. Atopic Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis). Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/atopic-eczema/ (Accessed April 2018).

4. Sanofi data on file, March 2018.

5. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Handout on Health: Atopic Dermatitis (A type of eczema) 2013. Available at: https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/atopic-dermatitis (Accessed April 2018).

Date of preparation: April 2018 - Job bag number:SAGB.IMM.18.04.0465

Updated: May 15, 2018

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