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Naoko Ando suffered from an atopic inflammation of the skin for 25 years and received a “standard treatment” of external application of a steroid drug.

It did not work and she stopped it in 2003.

But the termination of the treatment backfired on the associate professor of Toyo University as she experienced a deterioration of her symptoms. It took two years for the biochemist to recover to the extent that she could live daily life without difficulty.

Therapies centering on the use of steroid drugs are considered the standard medical treatment in dealing with an atopic inflammation of the skin. However, such remedies are sometimes not effective and some patients suffer from side effects.

Now, Ando has written a 223-page book titled “Atopy sei hifuen: Kanja 1,000-nin no shogen” (“Testimony by 1,000 dermatitis patients”) with the cooperation of patient support groups and medical institutions, including those that provide care for dermatitis patients, and assistance from the nonprofit organization Takagi Fund for Citizen Science.

The fruit of a scientist’s efforts, the book analyzed data from about 1,000 respondents who answered questionnaires Ando sent to about 2,000 people.

Seventy-eight percent of the respondents said they were not taking either steroid drugs or the immunosuppressive drug tacrolimus.

Abnormalities or side effects were cited most frequently as the reason for the respondents to stop relying on those medicines, followed by advice from specialists.

Touching on the recurrence of atopic symptoms they experienced after giving up steroid drugs, 64 percent said the symptoms were the worst they had experienced in dealing with the disease. Together with those who said their conditions became very bad, the proportion was 83 percent.

It was learned that a tendency for a “rebound” of symptoms was liable to occur after people had been on steroid drugs for more than a year.

More than half of those who responded to the questionnaire said they became able to control atopy and 60 percent mentioned “suspension of using steroid drugs” as the reason.

Thirty-four percent of the respondents said they could not leave their homes for more than a month when atopic symptoms became serious, while 40 percent took leave from work or quit working. The response indicated they were in need of social or economic support.

Sixty percent of the total said they had painful experiences in hospitals, saying they were forced to take steroid drugs and denied a medical examination or that they could not express their anxieties about the drugs doctors prescribed.

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