Celebrity Photographer Jeremy Kost Creates Images of Isolation to Empower Eczema Patients to Share Their Stories and Take Control

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Novel Photographic Essay Captures First-Person Stories of Isolating Effects of Eczema

The National Eczema Association, celebrity photographer Jeremy Kost and Novartis Pharmaceuticals announced today the debut of Images of Isolation, a photographic essay designed to visually bring to life the impact of eczema on the lives of patients who live with this chronic condition. Images of Isolation serves as a voice for the more than 35 million Americans suffering from eczema, a condition characterized by recurring flare-ups of red, dry and itchy skin, and is being launched this month to coincide with National Eczema Awareness Month.

Known for his unique use of a Polaroid® camera to photograph celebrities such as Sarah Jessica Parker, Tom Cruise and Beyonce Knowles, photographer Jeremy Kost shifted gears to capture images of children and adults suffering from eczema from across the United States. His poignant photographs do not focus on eczema, but instead focus on the people, portraying individuals in everyday settings, which, along with their stories, vividly express their experiences.

“Eczema has impacted all aspects of my life and has had an isolating effect,” commented Dawn Grish, who has suffered from eczema for 25 years. “When I have flare-ups, I don’t want anyone to see me. I compare it to a bad case of poison ivy -- you’re in pain and constantly itchy -- except eczema occurs over and over again, disrupting your whole life. I am participating in this program to let others with eczema know that they’re not alone and to show how the emotional scars of eczema can affect patients just as dramatically as the physical ones.”

Although eczema is one of the most common skin diseases worldwide, the International Study of Life with ATopic Eczema (ISOLATE), a large-scale global study to assess the impact of the condition, revealed the extent of the emotional suffering caused by eczema and the isolating effect it can have.

The ISOLATE study found:

  • On average, 55% of patients are either always or sometimes worried about the next eczema flare and 51% are either always or sometimes unhappy/depressed
  • On average, 86% of patients avoid at least one type of everyday activity during a flare-up

-75% of caregivers and patients feel that being able to effectively control eczema would be the single most important improvement to their or their child’s quality of life

Inspired by this study, Images of Isolation was developed to raise awareness about eczema and to educate people about the emotional impact of the condition on patients and their families in a powerful and unique way. It was created to encourage those who suffer from eczema to seek care from their physicians, to ask about appropriate treatment strategies and to manage their condition.

“For years I have photographed celebrities who embrace the spotlight and thought it would be interesting to turn my camera to people, who sometimes feel isolated and alone,” said Kost. “What I learned is that eczema has a powerful, isolating effect. I hope these pictures and stories will help others with the condition live fuller lives.”

“Images of Isolation provides patients with the opportunity to share their personal stories in a different way,” said Vicki Kalabokes, Chief Executive Officer of the National Eczema Association. “I’ve heard heartbreaking stories ranging from children being tormented at school to adults fearful of getting involved in intimate relationships. Through this program we hope to add a new dimension to the understanding of eczema and how it impacts one’s life, while also motivating patients living with eczema to seek treatment and manage their condition.”

Jeremy’s photographs, along with the patients’ stories, have been published in a full-color portfolio entitled Images of Isolation and copies are available on http://www.nationaleczema.org.

About ISOLATE Study

ISOLATE is a large-scale study, which assessed the impact of Atopic dermatitis (AD), also known as eczema, on the lives of those living with it and how patients and caregivers manage the condition.

The global study was comprised of interviews with 2,002 patients from eight countries over the age of 13, and caregivers of children between the ages of 2-13, with moderate to severe eczema. The questions were developed by national patient associations and physicians from countries included in the study.

The study was supported by Novartis Pharma AG.

Study Results

  • On average, 55% of patients are either always or sometimes worried about the next eczema flare and 51% are either always or sometimes unhappy/depressed
  • On average, 86% of patients avoid at least one type of everyday activity during a flare-up
  • 75% of caregivers and patients feel that being able to effectively control eczema would be the single most important improvement to their or their child’s quality of life
  • On average, 43% of patients are fairly or very concerned about being seen in public during an eczema flare
  • The most commonly affected part of the body in patients during eczema flares was the face and neck regardless of age, gender or severity
  • On average, patients take 2.5 days off school or work per year due to eczema and a further 9% of the time their concentration is affected at school or work while in flare
  • 74% of patients and caregivers state that their physicians have never discussed the emotional impact that eczema has had on their lives

About Eczema

Currently, eczema affects up to 17 percent of the U.S. population. Eczema is a broadly used term to describe patchy, red, dry itchy and scaly skin, which, when severe, can “weep,” bleed and/or crust over. This common and often distressing skin condition tends to run in families, especially when there is a family history of eczema, hay fever or asthma. Eczema almost always begins in childhood, usually during infancy. The term eczema most often refers to “atopic dermatitis,” which is a chronic relapsing inflammatory skin condition and is related to both allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and asthma. Doctors use the terms eczema and atopic dermatitis interchangeably to describe the disease.

Eczema can appear all over the body, such as the face, elbows and knees. According to a recent survey of eczema patients and their caregivers, it was reported that approximately 50 percent of eczema flares occur in sensitive skin areas, which includes the face, neck and groin. These areas may be particularly troublesome, because they are highly visible and can be more difficult to treat.

About The National Eczema Association

The National Eczema Association works to improve the health and quality of life of persons living with eczema, including those who have the disease as well as their loved ones. NEA also funds biomedical research to try to find a cure for better treatment. For more information about eczema, visit NEA’s Website at http://www.nationaleczema.org or call 1-800-818-7546.

About Jeremy Kost

Jeremy Kost has developed a unique approach to celebrity portrait photography – with his Polaroid camera, quickly earning the reputation of the new ‘anti-paparazzi.’ Influenced by Warhol’s New York, he found inspiration in the eclectic and gritty characters and sites of New York’s famed underground East Village and Lower East Side. Kost was touched by the energy and honesty of these shots and found he could translate their character and integrity to his work with celebrities and the New York fashion elite, who have gravitated to his aesthetic.

Jeremy is now a regular contributor to GIANT Magazine with his RoidRage column as well as the sole artist behind his site, RoidRage.Com, one of the leading celebrity/pop-culture destinations on the web. He has photographed numerous events, including the Mission Impossible 3 premiere, the Independent Spirit Awards and the MTV Video Music Awards and continues to shoot celebrities such as Tom Cruise, Alan Cummings, Beyonce Knowles, Lindsay Lohan and Sarah Jessica Parker.

About Novartis

Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation researches, develops, manufactures and markets leading innovative prescription drugs used to treat a number of diseases and conditions, including those in the cardiovascular, metabolic, cancer, organ transplantation, central nervous system, dermatological, gastrointestinal and respiratory areas. The company's mission is to improve people's lives by pioneering novel healthcare solutions.

Located in East Hanover, New Jersey, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation is an affiliate of Novartis AG (NYSE: NVS), a world leader in offering medicines to protect health, treat disease and improve well being. Novartis’ goal is to discover, develop and successfully market innovative products to treat patients, ease suffering and enhance the quality of life. Novartis is the only company with leadership positions in both patented and generic pharmaceuticals. Novartis is strengthening its medicine-based portfolio, which is focused on strategic growth platforms in innovation-driven pharmaceuticals, high-quality and low-cost generics, human vaccines and leading self-medication OTC brands. In 2005, the Group’s businesses achieved net sales of USD 32.2 billion and net income of USD 6.1 billion. Approximately USD 4.8 billion was invested in R&D. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis Group companies employ approximately 96,000 people and operate in over 140 countries around the world. For more information, please visit http://www.novartis.com.

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Meghan Flanagan
RUDER FINN
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