Sept. 29 (UPI) -- Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found in a recent study that black children are less likely to see a doctor for eczema, despite it being more severe among minorities.
Eczema is an inflammatory disease that causes red, itchy skin and affects about 30 million people in the United States. Of those, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports approximately 11 percent of children have eczema in the United States, with 17.1 percent of black children, 11.2 percent of white children and 13.17 percent of Hispanic children having condition.
Research at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that black children with eczema were 30 percent less likely to see a doctor for their eczema compared to white children, and that black children who see a doctor for eczema treatment have more visits and get more prescriptions than white children due to more severe disease.
"Previous studies have demonstrated disparities in overall healthcare utilization among racial and ethnic minorities, but few studies have examined this question specifically for eczema," Dr. Junko Takeshita, an assistant professor of Dermatology and Epidemiology at Penn, said in a press release.
"This is the first study to look at racial and ethnic differences in healthcare utilization for eczema on an individual level rather than relying on a sample of outpatient visits, making this a unique evaluation of eczema that includes those not accessing care for their disease."
The study, published this week in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, analyzed data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey from 2001 to 2013 of 2,043 Americans under the age of 18 who self-identified as white, black or Hispanic.
Researchers estimated that of the nearly three million children with eczema, 66 percent are white, 18 percent are black and 16 percent are Hispanic. Among white children, 62.1 percent saw a doctor for their eczema, 58.1 percent of Hispanic children and just 51.9 percent of black children saw a doctor for their eczema.
"The data show that race alone can be a predictor of whether or not a child with eczema will see a doctor, independent of other social or demographic factors or insurance status," Takeshita said.