Award-Winning Chef Elizabeth Falkner Reveals Her Struggle with Atopic Dermatitis to Highlight the Physical and Psychological Impact of the Disease






July 12, 2016

/PRNewswire/ -- Celebrity chef, restaurateur, and media personality

Elizabeth Falkner

has teamed up with Sanofi Genzyme, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the National Eczema Association, and the Dermatology Nurses Association to launch Understand AD, a national awareness campaign focused on educating people about moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis (AD), a potentially serious, chronic inflammatory skin disease.1 Falkner is speaking out for the first time about her own struggle with the disease to drive awareness about the physical impact and effects on quality of life for people living with atopic dermatitis, and to encourage others to speak up about their experience.

"I have been living with the challenges of atopic dermatitis for more than 20 years. At its worst, my atopic dermatitis causes constant, unbearable itching, scabbing, visible rashes on my body and even bleeding, and that's only the physical part," says

Elizabeth Falkner

. "Having atopic dermatitis can affect many aspects of a person's life — physically and emotionally – and yet many people don't understand the severity and impact. I joined Understand AD to empower people to have more open conversations with their doctors and loved ones about the impact this disease has on their lives."

Atopic dermatitis is a chronic, systemic inflammatory disease characterized by rashes and can include intense itching, skin dryness, cracking, redness, crusting and oozing.1,2,3 Though symptoms can appear on the surface of the skin all over the body,4 advances in research have provided new insights on the cause of atopic dermatitis.5 Scientists now believe AD is caused in part by systemic allergic inflammation that results from a malfunctioning immune system.4,6 The physical symptoms are challenging and impact people's sleep and daily lives and the disease can also make people feel self-conscious and embarrassed about their appearance.7,8,9

"Understand AD aligns with our mission to educate the public and support patients impacted by atopic dermatitis," says

Julie Block

, President and CEO, National Eczema Association. "Unfortunately, there's a misperception that atopic dermatitis is just a 'skin condition' that people can deal with on their own, but in reality, it's an immunological disease that has a huge impact on patients' lives. We want people living with this disease to know that they're not alone and that we're committed to advocating for better care and treatments, providing support and raising the level of awareness about this serious, and often overlooked, disease."

An estimated 1.6 million adults in

the United States

live with uncontrolled moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis.10 Researchers continue to discover more about atopic dermatitis and there is still a need for additional treatment options for atopic dermatitis.

"Our community of nurses on the front lines see people every day who are suffering with atopic dermatitis," says

Donna Beyer

, MSN, RN, DNC, President of the Dermatology Nurses Association. "But there is still a gap in public awareness about this disease and a clear need for continued education and supportive resources for patients. We're excited to join Understand AD to help educate about the disease and to drive the dialogue that atopic dermatitis is more than skin deep."

Visit to learn more about moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis, get connected with advocates such as the National Eczema Association and Dermatology Nurses Association, and hear from award-winning chef, media personality and restaurateur

Elizabeth Falkner

who has lived with atopic dermatitis for the past 20 years.

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