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New Drug Relieves Hand Eczema

In Some Patients, Alitretinoin Cleared Severe Hand Eczema After Standard Treatment Failed

Alitretinoin Clears Up Severe Hand Dermatitis continued...

It worked, with the rash resolving in about four-fifths of patients given the 30-milligram dose. In contrast, fewer than 10% of patients given a placebo responded.

Alitretinoin doesn't work overnight -- it typically takes four to six weeks to see any change, Lynde says. And not everyone responds.

"But this does offer new hope for dermatitis we thought was incurable. Patients improve and quite a few go into remission," he says.

The most frequent side effects are headache and dryness and flushing of the skin, Lynde says. Also, it can cause serious, even fatal birth defects, so women who are pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant should never take it, he says.

Additionally, the medication can make you more sensitive to the sun, so you may burn more easily, says past AAD president Darrell S. Rigel, MD, clinical professor of dermatology at New York University Medical Center.

"On the flip side, chronic hand eczema is very hard to treat. If it’s so severe you don't want to go out in public or you’re in business and don’t want to shake hands, this appears to offer a good option," he tells WebMD.

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