By Mary Elizabeth Dallas
FRIDAY, Oct. 27, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Children and adults with eczema shouldn't suffer in silence because new, improved treatments can do more to help ease the uncomfortable, itchy rash associated with the skin condition.
Many adults diagnosed with eczema (atopic dermatitis) actually had the condition since they were children but were never diagnosed, explained Dr. Luz Fonacier. She is an allergist in Mineola, N.Y., and an American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) board member.
"Atopic dermatitis is underdiagnosed in the United States," Fonacier said in an ACAAI news release.
"Many adults don't seek out medical care, preferring to self-treat instead, either with home remedies or over-the-counter drugs. Often, they aren't aware they have eczema, and they also don't know treatments have changed a lot in the last few years. There are new drugs and topical medications that can make a huge difference in their quality of life," she said.
Eczema causes scaly rashes that can become infected, the ACAAI said. Eczema also leads to more than itchy, dry skin. Many people with the condition have trouble sleeping and struggle with emotional distress, which can affect their relationships.
ACAAI allergists noted, however, that newer treatments could help patients sleep and improve their outlook and overall quality of life.
According to Dr. Mark Boguniewicz, "In the last few years we've seen the introduction of targeted therapies, also known as precision medicine." Boguniewicz is a pediatric allergist and immunologist in Denver and a member of the ACAAI.
Two new drugs have already been approved for the treatment of eczema, including:
- Crisaborole (Eucrisa): An anti-inflammatory ointment for use in people aged 2 years and older that reduces skin itchiness, redness and swelling.
- Dupilumab (Dupixent): A biologic therapy given by injection to adults with moderate to severe eczema when medications applied to the skin aren't appropriate or effective.
"The takeaway message is that there are effective medications available that help relieve eczema symptoms and now can also target the underlying cause," Boguniewicz said.
"People with eczema have been frustrated by the limitations of existing treatments. We're very excited by the new medications, which were developed based on better understanding of atopic dermatitis. We expect additional therapies to be approved soon. An allergist has the right training and expertise to diagnose your eczema, and to help you find relief with the right treatments," he said.
The new medications were scheduled to be discussed on Friday at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, in Boston. Information presented at meetings is generally viewed as preliminary until it's been published in a peer-reviewed journal.