For approximately 20% of pediatric patients with atopic dermatitis, symptoms persist into adolescence. “Having atopic dermatitis during adolescence may have a considerable effect on quality of life of patients, as many physical, social, and psychological changes occur,” says Richelle C. Kosse, Msc, PhD-Candidate. “Additionally, body image and peers play a more important role during this life phase.”

Seeking to explore the perception towards disease and treatment of adolescents with atopic dermatitis, Dr. Kosse and colleagues conducted three focus groups with 15 adolescents (age 12-18 years) who collected topical corticosteroids in the preceding year. The study included 9 community pharmacies. Data were collected from November to December 2016, until data saturation was reached. During the focus groups, topics such as impact on daily life, medication use, and information provision were discussed.

The researchers found that adolescents with atopic dermatitis were generally satisfied with their current treatment; however, they reported a preference for faster and more persistent treatment effect. Most participants had little contact with their physicians and did not completely adhere to prescribed medication regimens. These patients developed their own routines of using topical corticosteroids in combination with emollients and moisturizers, notes Dr. Kosse, and they also seemed to have incorrect beliefs about the mechanism of action.

“Healthcare providers should devote special attention to adolescents with atopic dermatitis to make them more aware of the principles of topical treatment, and to ensure proper use,” says Dr. Kosse. She stresses the need for an intervention for adolescents with atopic dermatitis designed to increase their knowledge of available treatments.