I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Sanofi Genzyme and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals to write about the signs, symptoms, and treatments available for atopic dermatitis or eczema. All opinions are my own.
It’s cold outside! One of the key skin issues of the Winter time is dryness due to cold temperatures. Since I was a kid, I have always had issues with skin itching once November comes around. Between that and the lack of Vitamin D with these cold and grey NYC winters, the skin can take a beating!
This issue not only affects me but it affects my kids as well. Having darker skin means that you have to work extra hard to moisturize and keep your skin happy. The sheer amount of moisturizers we own–I mean I’m pretty sure we have some in every room at this point!
Atomic dermatitis can be overwhelming to manage (especially during a pandemic)–I talked about some of the symptoms here. If you have Atopic Dermatitis and you haven’t seen any improvements with your symptoms, especially with topical treatments, I want to encourage you to try a new method. Perhaps it’s a different dermatologist or even maybe a new plan altogether. Treatment is important and getting it resolved should be atop your priority list!
There are three things you need to consider when treating Atopic Dermatitis:
Basic skin care:
The first step to relief is gentle skin care treatments, using soaps and cleansers that are oil-based, do not contain preservatives, and moisturize the skin. A lot of people stop here in the treatment but you might need more.
What is in your home that could be triggering a reaction?
Identifying and avoiding possible irritants and allergens that can trigger or aggravate a flareup is important. Common triggers may include fragrances, wool or coarse fabrics that can be irritating, certain foods such as dairy products, or transitions/extremes in humidity/temperature. This can be a hard task especially because there are so many options! But it’s important to be as upfront with your doctor as possible.
Topical therapies (mild or moderate atopic dermatitis):
Corticosteroids is often the next step on the journey, although the long-term use of topical steroids is often not recommended. Corticosteroid-sparing therapies are also available if basic management strategies do not provide relief and are recommended for sensitive body sites such as the face or diaper area.
For more severe atopic dermatitis:
–Moving up the ladder can be necessary for moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis patients.
–Phototherapy is another option if topical options don’t appear to be working.
–Systemic therapies (moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis):
o One treatment option for these patients is nonspecific immunosuppressants, such as systemic corticosteroids. However, these can cause rebound flares and multiple adverse effects with long-term use.
o Newer systemic agents are now available and approved by the FDA that target the underlying causes of atopic dermatitis, including the factors that cause itch and inflammation.
o Additionally, dupilumab is approved for use in patients aged 6 years and older for moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis that is not controlled by topical therapies.
o Systemic therapies may be augmented by topical medications.
Because atopic dermatitis is a chronic condition, a formal written plan or “Eczema Action Plan” can help you follow your recommended management plan. It is important to follow treatment instructions carefully so that if your symptoms don’t improve or you experience any side effects, your doctor can determine whether another treatment is right for you.
It is important to seek care from your skin care provider if treatments are not working despite following the treatment plan because a treatment change may be needed.
Some quick facts about atopic dermatitis:
o More than 31 million Americans have some form of eczema
o Around 16.5 million adults in the US have atopic dermatitis, a chronic form of eczema, with 6.6 million reporting moderate-to-severe symptoms.
o Although atopic dermatitis most commonly develops early in life, it can persist into adulthood for many patients
o 10% to 25% of children have atopic dermatitis; of which, approximately one-third have moderate-to-severe disease
o 5% to 10% of adults have atopic dermatitis (3% of elderly); of which, approximately one-third have moderate-to-severe disease
o Atopic dermatitis affects all races; however, it is more common among Black children
o Black and Hispanic children are more likely to experience more severe cases
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