When you have severe eczema (atopic dermatitis), it can feel like nothing will relieve your symptoms. The severe itching, inflammation, dryness, oozing, and crusting can make life miserable. Pain and open sores can make it difficult to focus during the day and challenging to sleep at night.
Suffice to say, severe eczema is associated with a lower quality of life compared with other chronic conditions, but there is hope.
Here at Hines Dermatology, Dr. Yvonne Hines, a board-certified dermatology and dermatopathology specialist, treats even the most stubborn dermatological conditions, including severe eczema. New and existing treatments can reduce the severity of your symptoms so you can live a good quality of life.
Living with severe eczema
Eczema is a complex group of conditions that cause the skin to become itchy and inflamed. More than 31 million Americans have some form of eczema. The exact cause is unknown, although a combination of environmental and genetic factors appears to be involved.
Eczema is considered severe when it covers a large area of the body, flares up for long periods, and fails to respond to standard treatment. This makes it more challenging to control than mild-to-moderate eczema.
People with eczema have damage to their outermost layer of skin, leaving it sensitive and dry. The skin becomes rough and scaly, and tends to crack, ooze, and crust. Chemicals and perfumes often worsen symptoms.
Left untreated, eczema leaves you vulnerable to complications such as skin infections.
Medications that modify the immune system can lessen inflammation in severe eczema. Calcineurin inhibitors are medications that suppress the immune system, and they’re used topically and orally to treat difficult skin diseases such as eczema.
Calcineurin is an enzyme involved in immune reactions. Blocking this enzyme eases inflammation and symptoms.
Oral corticosteroids such as prednisone are powerful medications that slow the immune system’s response and reduce inflammation. This helps to lessen the severity of eczema symptoms.
These corticosteroids are often used short-term to gain rapid control of your symptoms during flare-ups. Patients taking oral corticosteroids for severe eczema are monitored carefully.
Dupilumab is the first biologic medication to be FDA approved for moderate-to-severe eczema. It’s an injectable medication that blocks specific proteins involved in immune reactions.
Dupilumab specifically blocks interleukin-4 (IL-4) and interleukin-13 (IL-13), two inflammatory substances that play key roles in eczema. Many patients with eczema treated with dupilumab report a dramatic improvement in their symptoms.
Individualized care for patients with severe eczema
Every patient with severe eczema receives an individualized treatment plan to gain control of and address their symptoms. The key to treating the condition is reducing triggers and finding a plan that works to ease the severity of your symptoms.
It can take time to find a combination of things that work for you. Patience and determination can keep you on the road to effectively managing your condition.
While there is no cure for eczema, medication is often necessary to adequately manage severe eczema. Forming a strong partnership with a dermatology specialist is the first step toward reducing symptoms of severe eczema.
For more information on how our expert team of dermatology specialists can help you combat severe eczema, contact our Attleboro, Massachusetts, office at 508-222-1976 or book online to schedule an appointment. Another option is to send a message to Dr. Hines and the team here on our website.