Pollutants in air lead to rise in eczema cases among adults in Gurugram
Monika Gulati, who has been a resident of Gurugram for the past 10 years, said she suffered an itchy inflammation on her skin around February last year. Over the next one month, her skin flared up and she started concealing it. “I was covering it with makeup and clothing. I even stopped going out or meeting people after a point of time,” she recalled.
Gulati, 36, was diagnosed with eczema or dermatitis, a disease characterised by dry, inflamed and itchy skin on the hands, neck, elbows and knees. It is also a disease that is mostly considered to develop in early childhood, and is rarer among adults. For Gulati, the disease usually flares up this time of the year — between February to March — due to the presence of pollen in the air, she said.
However, according to doctors, cases of eczema in adults in the city are becoming a year-round occurrence and have risen over the past couple of years. They say that environmental factors are contributing to the spread of the disease.
“There has been a significant increase in the number of adults with eczema in the past two years. The year-round pollutants in the atmosphere and the dust outside and inside homes are to be blamed,” Sunil Sangi, a skin expert at Fortis Hospital said, adding that the intensity of the flare ups has increased. He said earlier anti-allergens would help reduce the intensity of the infection, but now, in at least eight out of 10 cases, only topical steroids which are applied to the skin to reduce inflammation and irritation work.
According to a 2018 research on the disease published in the medical journal Medscape, rates of active atopic eczema is increasing with age among adults due to external factors such as pollutants. The research finds that eczema, which is long thought to be a childhood, genetic disease, is getting more common in adults.
Dr Anuj Pall, dermatologist at Max Hospital, said one of the most common reasons for the disease is the presence of dust mites in people’s houses. “Avoid using things that collect dust such as heavy curtains, rugs. Hot water baths and woollen clothes can also aggravate eczema,” he said. He added that sources such as central heating and fan heaters can be a problem and suggested turning car heating vents away from the face. Wearing cotton clothes helps prevent skin from drying out and helps with the itching, experts suggested.