Atopic dermatitis, or eczema, is often a chronic skin condition that can have a significant impact on quality of life. According to the National Eczema Association, at least 17.8 million Americans suffer from atopic dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis most commonly presents during childhood but can present well into adulthood as well. The condition is characterized by an itchy pink, dry rash that often leads to cycles of itching and scratching that are hard to break. There is significant ongoing research into the cause of eczema, which is fueling research efforts into advanced treatment options for patients.
The following options are available to treat atopic dermatitis:
1. Lifestyle Changes
– A simple skin care regimen can keep flare-ups at bay. Choose unscented, mild soaps and moisturizers. Apply an emollient to the skin 2-3 times daily, especially after bathing. High stress levels are linked to skin eruptions and managing stress can reduce your tendency to flare. Get enough sleep and eat a healthy, balanced diet.
2. Reduce Allergens
- Airborne and environmental allergens have been known to be a trigger for eczema. Some patients may benefit from further allergy testing to identify specific allergens.
3. Corticosteroid creams/ointments
– These are available over the counter and with a prescription. Side effects can include thinning of the skin and stretch marks if used inappropriately. These are often safely used under the supervision of your doctor.
4. Immune Modulators
– Commonly known as Protopic
, immune modulators suppress the immune system and are often used with corticosteroids topically. Expense can often be a limiting factor with these medications.
– Phototherapy utilizes ultraviolet B light waves to suppress the inflammation (redness) of the skin and calm eczema flares. It is only administered by prescription and under close supervision in your doctor’s office.
– For patients with severe eczema not responding to topical treatments, Dupilumab is a human antibody that binds to specific receptors to reduce incidences of atopic dermatitis. Initial clinical trials are showing positive results with significant and rapid improvement in some study patients.
Medicine is advancing quickly to aid sufferers of atopic dermatitis. Talk to your physician about options best suited for you.