Dedication: The National Eczema Awareness Month 2014 expert committee posing with the 30-day challenge winners.
Participants of the ‘My Eczema Journey 30-Day Challenge’ benefit from expert advice.
The “My Eczema Journey 30-Day Challenge” organised by the Dermatological Association of Malaysia (PDM), Malaysian Paediatric Association (MPA) and A. Menarini (Malaysia) recently concluded, with many of the participants reporting different degrees of success in managing their eczema.
Eczema is a life-long condition, characterised by chronic itch, redness of the skin (inflammation), sleepless nights and profound fear of when the next flare-up will happen.
But in just 30 days, 70% of people from all over Malaysia proved the notion “#eczemasowhat” by effectively managing their eczema conditions to achieve remission.
“Remission means less itch, and more flare-free days for the eczema patient, leading to a remarkable difference in the quality of life of eczema sufferers in Malaysia,” says Dr Najeeb Safdar, president of PDM and joint-chairman of the National Eczema Awareness Month Board.
General Manager of A. Menarini (Malaysia) Cheah Chor Eng adds: “The level of dedication and commitment shown by participants is astounding.”
The event was the organisers way of commemorating National Eczema Awareness Month in Malaysia, which ran through the month of April 2014, the first initiative of its kind in South-East Asia.
The event was organised as part of efforts to tackle the rising prevalence of eczema in Malaysia, which has been rising steadily since the 1980s. It is estimated that one in five or 20% of primary school children under the age of five in Malaysia and one in 12 adults suffer from eczema.
The guidelines of the challenge were simple: visit one of the 230 panels of medical specialists (comprising of paediatric dermatologists, dermatologists and paediatricians) located nationwide, and comply with the medication and skincare regime prescribed by the attending specialist, coupled with applying an emollient daily to experience the changes.
“The doctor said eczema can be cured if we continuously put the moisturiser cream on the affected area. Before this, when my son looked into the mirror, he didn’t even smile, but now we are very happy to see Zafran smiling and laughing when sees his face in the mirror,” says Azatul Sheela, an obviously jubilant parent to a 10-year-old boy who was the third prize winner.
Participants were required to email their weekly progress reports with photos and testimonials of how each participant was faring through the 30 days.
Speaking at the prize presentation ceremony, Cheah stressed that the initiative has shown tremendous results, and has spurred a movement to make a difference in the lives of eczema patients nationwide because the challenge provided them with support, encouragement and, more importantly, guidance.
Essentially, one has to help oneself and not wait till a flare-up strikes.
“In terms of prevention there is a lot that can be done. Occasionally, there’s a food allergy, but the main thing is that children with eczema have dry skin, and if you keep it moist by restoring the skin barrier, you minimise itching and flares.
“I recommend short warm baths or showers and the use of soap- and fragrance-free products. A good moisturiser needs to be applied liberally following a bath or shower and reapplied once or twice a day.
“Parents often use small amounts of moisturiser, when liberal application is what’s needed,” advises Datuk Dr Zulkifli Ismail, consultant paediatrician and joint-chairman of the National Eczema Awareness Month Board.
The grand prize winner, Ilda Halina Bt Ilyas, managed to improve her daughter’s skin significantly. “This has changed not only my life, but that of my family members too. All of us (participants) have benefitted from the 30-day challenge,” she notes.