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Tuesday, July 12, 2016 8:36 am EDT

Award-Winning Chef Elizabeth Falkner Reveals Her 20+ Year Struggle with Atopic Dermatitis

At Sanofi Genzyme, we are committed to raising awareness of the physical and psychological impact of diseases like moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis, a chronic form of eczema that can be serious. Recently, award-winning chef Elizabeth Falkner shared the story of her 20+ year struggle with atopic dermatitis in an effort to encourage others living with the disease to speak up about their own challenges.

Celebrity chef, restaurateur and media personality Elizabeth Falkner has struggled with atopic dermatitis for more than 20 years, affecting both her personal life and career. In her thirties, just as her career as a chef was starting to take off, Elizabeth developed red, flaky, and intensely-itchy lesions on her lower legs. These lesions eventually also began to appear on her hands. The stress of running a restaurant, which, as a chef, also requires constant handwashing, combined with the dry air and intense heat from the oven, created a work environment that was a recipe for disaster for Elizabeth’s skin.


Elizabeth’s symptoms persisted and worsened until finally she made the decision to see a doctor and was diagnosed with moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis.

What is Atopic Dermatitis?

Atopic dermatitis is a chronic form of eczema that can be serious. Symptoms can include red rashes, intense itch, dryness, cracking, crusting and oozing of the skin, and they can occur on any part of their body. 1 Scientists now believe that atopic dermatitis is caused in part by systemic inflammation that results from a malfunctioning immune system. , In addition to chronic physical symptoms, the lack of understanding and awareness of atopic dermatitis can make the disease burden harder to bear for patients who may also experience embarrassment, stress and anxiety. , , An estimated 1.6 million adults in the United States live with uncontrolled, moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis.

Elizabeth has discovered that her experience with atopic dermatitis is not only physically painful and uncomfortable for her, but it can be isolating as well. “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,” Elizabeth says. “Having atopic dermatitis can affect many aspects of a person’s life – physically and emotionally – and yet many people don't understand the seriousness and impact. My hope is that, by talking about my experience with atopic dermatitis, I can bring more attention to this disease.”

Understand AD

Recently, Elizabeth joined forces with Sanofi Genzyme, Regeneron, the National Eczema Association and the Dermatology Nurses Association to launch Understand AD, a national awareness campaign focused on educating people about the physical and emotional impact of moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis (AD). Elizabeth says, “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.”

Despite her symptoms, Elizabeth is committed to living a healthy lifestyle. In addition to maintaining her role as an active and acclaimed chef, Elizabeth practices and is a certified teacher in Jungshin, a sword-focused form of fitness, she practices yoga and Pilates, and is a life-long soccer player.

To learn more about Elizabeth and about moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis visit

  1. World Allergy Association 2004: Accessed March 21, 2016.
  2. National Institutes of Health (NIH). Handout on Health: Atopic Dermatitis (A type of eczema) May 2013. Available online: Accessed:
    May 24, 2016.
  3. Lebwohl MG, Del Rosso JQ, Abramovits W, et al. Pathways to managing atopic dermatitis: consensus from the experts. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2013;6(7 Suppl):S2-S18
  4. Misery L, Finlay AY, Martin N, et al. Atopic dermatitis: impact on the quality of life of patients and their partners. Dermatology. 2007;215:123-129.
  5. Zuberbier T, Orlow SJ, Paller AS, et al. Patient perspectives on the management of atopic dermatitis. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2006;118:226-232.
  6. Eichenfield LF, Tom WL, Chamlin SL, et al. Guidelines of care for the management of atopic dermatitis. Section 1. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014;70:338-51.
  7. Adelphi Final Report, data on file.
Last Updated: 7/12/2016
US-ILF-12290 | US.DUP.16.06.058
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