Atopic eczema: Its social and financial costs


Professor AS Kemp Department of Immunology, Royal Children’s Hospital, Flemington Road, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia. Fax: +61 (03) 9345 5764; email:


Abstract: Atopic dermatitis is a disorder with considerable social and financial costs. A recent Australian study indicates that the family stress related to the care of a child with moderate or severe atopic dermatitis is significantly greater than that of care of children with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. The factors contributing to family stress include: sleep deprivation; loss of employment; time taken for care of atopic dermatitis; and financial costs. An estimate of the yearly financial costs for a family and community (which includes medical, hospital, direct costs of treatments and indirect costs from loss of employment), range from $A1142 per child per year with mild atopic dermatitis, to $A6099 per child per year for a child with severe atopic dermatitis. As the current prevalence of atopic dermatitis in Australia is 10–15%, this indicates a considerable financial burden on the community. It is possible that appropriate interventions directed to reducing trigger factors, may produce worthwhile savings, in addition to benefits for the individuals and families. Atopic dermatitis should not be regarded as a minor skin disorder but as a condition which has the potential to be a major handicap involving considerable personal, social and financial consequences both for the family and for the community.