Hispanic and black children are more likely to miss school than white children due to the chronic skin condition eczema, a new study finds.
Researchers analyzed more than a decade of data on more than 8,000 2- to 17-year-olds enrolled in a national eczema registry. Overall, 3.3 percent missed six or more days of school over a six-month period.
That meets the U.S. Department of Education's definition of chronic school absenteeism.
Compared to white children, Hispanic children were 3.4 times more likely to be chronically absent due to eczema, and black children 1.5 times more likely, according to the study published online May 22 in the journal JAMA Dermatology.
"The effects of eczema are more than skin-deep, and studies have shown that the mental health and social impact of this condition can be significant -- sometimes just as much or more than the physical," said lead author Dr. Joy Wan, aa postdoctoral fellow and instructor in dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
Eczema, also called atopic dermatitis, is a common inflammatory disease that causes red and itchy skin. It affects about 30 million Americans, including up to 20 percent of children, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The condition is more common among black and Hispanic children than among white children.
Along with the physical symptoms, eczema can have mental health impacts as well, including increased risk of anxiety and depression.
"Most people don't realize the serious impact eczema can have on a person's life, and our research shows minorities may be disproportionately affected," study senior author Dr. Junko Takeshita said in a university news release. She is an assistant professor of dermatology and epidemiology.
"We still have a lot to learn about eczema-related disparities but it's becoming increasingly clear that these disparities need to be addressed," Takeshita said.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more on eczema.
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