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What Can You Do About Atopic Dermatitis(Eczema)?

Atopic dermatitis or eczema is a very common and pretty aggravating itchy rash that Dermatologists diagnose most in the fall and winter months. Let’s take a quick look at the common symptoms, and care paths that can help people to manage eczema.

Eczema is an itchy rash that develops with bumps, most commonly on the arms and legs, but also quite frequently on the face, neck, or body. It affects somewhere around 3% of the United States population, and Dermatologists have known for years that it’s more common in people with a family history of asthma, hay fever, and food allergies.

Years ago, we used to think that food allergies were the trigger. Incoming research in Dermatology is pointing however to a combination of genetic factors – since it tends to run in certain families – and also low oil level in the skin.

Sometimes allergies to certain fragrances, dyes, preservatives, or components within latex or certain metals can cause attacks of itching in patients with eczema. I have been a member of the American Contact Dermatitis Society for over ten years, so I offer extended allergy patch testing within my own Dermatology practice, to help patients to find out whether they are the victim to certain trigger chemicals. This type of testing involves putting ointments onto the skin – generally on the back and/or arms – and then looking for a reaction to these common culprits two and four days later. I have been able to “cure” many patients from their eczema over the years, by figuring out which chemicals they may have become allergic to.

Dr. George Woodbury Jr., in his office at Rheumatology and Dermatology Associates, 8143 Walnut Grove Road, Cordova TN 38018 (1-901-753-0168)

In 2018, Dermatologists have a growing arsenal of medications to put the itching of eczema to rest. We have the topical steroids, of which there are over 30 available, most of which are by prescription only. These are often quite helpful in alleviating itching and rash, but they must be used carefully, because they can promote thinning of the skin, stretch marks, and can even be absorbed into the body, leading to high blood pressure and sometimes sugar diabetes. But sometimes oral agents like prednisone or injectable steroids like methylprednisolone can give prompt relief from the itching and rash of eczema.

We now also have have four promising steroid-free prescription medications:

  • Tacrolimus ointment;

  • Pimecrolimus ointment; and

  • Atopiclair®, and

  • Crisaborole Ointment (Eucrisa®), a new steroid-free medication based upon boron research.

In 2017, Dermatologists also began using a new injectable agent called Dupixent® that acts upon the immune system to decrease what is called cytokine signaling between the white blood cells. This injection can often really help alleviate the itching and rash of eczema.

And in 2016, I incorporated a company called Big River Silk Skincare Inc., to manufacture and distribute three lines of helpful lubricating agents (moisturizers) containing an Alpha-Hydroxy chemical called Glycolic Acid: GLYCOSHEA® Hand&Body Cream/Standard Strength (1 oz: $19.95; 2 oz: $29.95; 8 oz: $89.95); GLYCOSHEA® Hand&Body Cream/High Strength (1 oz: $29.95; 2 oz: $44.95; 8 oz: $139.95); and GLYCOSHEA® Facial&Neck Cream (1 oz: $39.94/2 oz; $59.95; 8 oz: $179.95). GLYCOSHEA is helpful in both moisturizing the skin and decreasing the appearance of fine lines in the skin, promoting providing smoothness of texture and evenness of color, so it can be called an Anti-Wrinkle Cream.

So if you or family members are suffering from itching and rash, consider getting your condition properly diagnosed. With ongoing advances in testing and treatment, we Dermatologists can sometimes be called “itch doctors.”

George Woodbury Jr. M.D. (11/15/2018)

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