New Treatments Ease Eczema, Psoriasis

New Treatments Spell Relief for Millions and With Fewer Side Effects

From the WebMD Archives


Miracle Cream?

Some research shows that these topical treatments may help other hard-to-treat skin conditions including chronic hand dermatitis, some types of psoriasis, and rosacea.

"This is exciting because we see rosacea a great deal and it's very challenging to treat," she says. In addition, topical immunomodulators may help clear up seborrheic dermatitis on the face and vitiligo, a disease in which patients lose pigment on various skin areas, leaving the skin unevenly pigmented. What's more, these treatments may also clear warts, poison oak, and ivy.

Stopping the parade

A new study will look at whether treating eczema early can stop what researchers dub the atopic march.

Many children with eczema may develop other conditions such as asthma or allergic rhinitis (commonly called hay fever), suggesting that eczema may only be the first sign of a sequence of allergic symptoms including food allergy, allergic rhinitis, or asthma. The new study is looking at 1,100 infants aged 3 months to 18 months, she says.

Et Tu Psoriasis?

The treatment of psoriasis, too, is looking up, says Abby S. Van Voorhees, MD, an assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Psoriasis affects 6 to 7 million Americans and accounts for 2.4 million annual doctor visits and costs about $3 billion a year, she said at a press briefing. The inflammatory skin condition causes red scaly lesions or plaques that are found on the knees, elbows, trunk, and buttocks.

Older treatments were either not entirely effective or highly toxic, but a new class of treatments known as biologics nip the inflammation cascade of psoriasis in the bud. They do this by blocking the activation of cells of the immune system which kicks off the reaction that eventually results in the formation of psoriatic lesions on the skin.

Unlike older therapies, "these drugs do not affect the liver, kidney, or bone marrow," she says.

"We have many more choices now that allow us to individualize treatment and provide options for resistant disease," Van Voorhees says.

"It's a very exciting and I am optimistic," she explains. "The future is really looking very bright."