"Eczema is a life-altering disease that must be taken seriously," says Guy Webster, MD, in a press release issued to WebMD. "While its causes remain unclear, we now know that patients have defects in one or more of their genes. Environmental irritants, allergens, and stress provoke skin flares." Webster is a dermatologist at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia.
Paller stresses that TIMs represent a suppressive type of therapy, not a cure. "Eczema is a life-altering disease, not just a rash," she says. "Kids can't sleep, parents get grumpy; anything we can do to disrupt that cycle of disruption, we'll try to do."
In the meantime, dermatologists point out that the best offense against eczema is a good defense. They say the key is to help prevent or defend against inflammation. The AAD recommends that patients manage stress, apply soothing skin moisturizers, and watch for affected patches that can trigger flare-ups. Also, it's best to avoid overheating and exercising when a flare-up begins.
Paller suggests that if you think you or your child has eczema, seek care by a physician. If it's more severe, see a dermatologist. Most important, she says, is to "be on the lookout for the TIMs. The development of this whole new class of drugs is very exciting, and the future will ensure its safety, right down to [newborns]."
- Eczema is a condition that causes red and inflamed patches of skin that are uncontrollably itchy, and it affects 15 million Americans.
- A new class of drugs, called topical immunomodulators, has been shown to be effective against eczema without the side affects associated with older, steroid medications.
- Researchers expect the new drugs to be available later this year.