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Atopic Dermatitis, Eczema, Twitter, Social Media, Patient Perspectives



  1. Thelwall, Saheeda
  2. Thelwall, Mike


ABSTRACT: Atopic dermatitis or eczema affects a substantial minority of children and adults. Patients may treat their symptoms through skin care regimes, diet restrictions, and/or prescribed topical corticosteroids. The patient perspective is important because of the long-term self-administered treatment regime and the potential psychological effects on relationships from a visible disease. This article assesses the potential of public social media data to give new insights into patient perspectives through a thematic analysis of a random sample of 400 tweets from 2019 matching the query, "my eczema." Although the most common use of Twitter is to announce a flare-up, it is also used to express anger and discuss possible treatments. New themes not previously reported include the use of humor to discuss the condition and giving eczema agency: discussing it as if it had a will of its own. These may be defense strategies against the potential of eczema to strike at any time or the fear of negative reactions or blame from friends. This highlights the importance of nurses and others helping patients to deal with the psychological effects of eczema.