Eczema is a skin condition that’s most common in babies and children, but it can afflict teens and adults as well. Because it’s a chronic condition that has no known cure, trying to treat its symptoms on your own can be challenging. However, innovative new prescription therapies, such as biologics, offer long-term relief.
Whether you or your child has eczema, relief starts with a thorough evaluation and a customized treatment plan. The experts at the Rheumatology and Allergy Institute of Connecticut — Reinhard Kage, MD, Ph.D., and Barbara Kage, MD, FACR — offer this Eczema 101 guide so you can understand what it is, how to avoid it, and how to find the most effective treatment for your unique case.
Do you have eczema?
Though eczema looks like a rash, it’s not contagious and can’t be spread from one part of your body to another.
Eczema is more than just dry, flaky skin, and each person has a unique combination of symptoms. The most common symptoms include:
- Red or brown patches of skin
- Intense itching
- Itching made worse by scratching
- Dry, thickened, leathery skin
- Swollen areas
- Small raised bumps that may ooze fluid
- Patches of crusty, yellowish skin, which can be a sign of infection
Eczema in infants is most likely to occur on the face, scalp, and forehead. In older children and adults, it’s more likely to occur on the neck, wrists, ankles, in the creases of the elbows and knees, and in the crease between the buttocks and the legs.
How did you get eczema?
Medical experts don’t yet know exactly what causes eczema or why the symptoms and triggers vary so widely between people who suffer from it. However, common triggers for eczema include:
- Cold or dry weather
- Dry indoor air
- Food allergies
- Synthetic fabrics
- Animal dander
- Fragrances and detergents
- Temperature changes
- A cold or respiratory illness
Eczema occurs most often in families with a history of the condition, as well as asthma or seasonal allergies.
Finding your eczema treatment
At Rheumatology and Allergy Institute of Connecticut, our doctors first work with you to find the underlying triggers for your eczema, and then custom-design a treatment plan, making changes as necessary. Your doctor may also recommend lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of having another eczema flare-up. In some cases, that might include getting food allergy tests, as there is a link between what you eat and the condition of your skin.
As your skin starts to heal, they also recommend self-care options that you can administer at home. Some treatments your doctor may prescribe include:
- Light therapy
- Antibiotics to clear skin infections
- Anti-itch medications and topical creams
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Topical creams that suppress your immune system
- Moisturizers to protect your skin from further irritation
- Sunscreen to avoid irritation by sun damage
- Bandages with a corticosteroid cream to wrap around your skin
You or your older child (12 years+) might also benefit from innovative prescription biologics, including Dupixent®.
Biologics turn down inflammation
Injectable Dupixent is FDA-cleared to subdue the inflammation that triggers eczema’s uncomfortable and unsightly symptoms. Other therapies — including antibiotics and topical treatments — kill the bacteria on the surface of your skin that may trigger an eczema attack. However, because eczema-afflicted skin is thinner and more vulnerable than healthy skin, these treatments may not be enough; the bacteria can still pass through the skin barrier and start the over-reactive immune response that leads to eczema symptoms.
Biologics such as Dupixent address this problem. Your doctor injects them underneath your skin, where they attach to immune cells and stop them from triggering inflammation. In clinical trials, almost half of adults treated with Dupixent reported that their symptoms improved by 75%; some even said they experienced 90% relief from eczema itching and pain.
If you or your child is living with the discomfort of eczema, help is available. Call us at either of our locations or request an appointment online today.