What's New in Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)
Eczema – also called “atopic dermatitis” – is a sensitive skin condition that often runs in families along with asthma, hay fever, and food allergies. It’s felt to be genetic, rather than due to an allergy to milk or eggs. Episodes of eczema –rashes and itching or burning -tend to start when the skin gets dry, often related to a new cleanser or laundry detergent.
In 2020, attacks of eczema are unfortunately becoming more and more common, particularly because of the current frequent skin washing and scrubbing, due to the current Covid-19 pandemic. And Eczema really affects the whole family: parents become sleep deprived when kids are suffering from itching and burning in the night.
But as a Dermatologist I find eczema to be one of the most exciting skin problems to treat, because we Dermatologists have more and more effective evaluation tools and treatment options.
Regarding evaluation tools:
Traditionally, Dermatologists have evaluated eczema by inspecting the skin in the office. We sometimes also do a skin biopsy, removing a small area of skin under local anesthetic to be checked by a Dermatopathologist, or specialist in skin cells, sometimes with a special test called an immunofluorescence biopsy. Sometimes we also order what’s called skin allergy patch testing, which allows us to check for allergy to one or more preservatives, fragrances, metals, or components of latex. This is either the True Test®, and Expanded Allergy Testing, with the Dormer Test®. Finding the trigger chemical allows the patient to avoid it.
Traditionally, Dermatologists have used what are called topical (meaning “on top of the skin”) prescription steroid creams and ointments, such as Triamcinolone and Clobetasol. Now we also have several effective steroid-free products, including tacrolimus and pimecrolimus, as well as crisaborole ointment (Eucrisa®). We also have several oral tablets, including an oral steroid, prednisone, and oral azathioprine, as well as an injectable medicine - Dupixent®.
Furthermore, we have more and more effective moisturizers, including Cerave®, Cetaphil®, and Atopiclair®. In 2016, I decided to make available nationally an Alpha-hydroxy anti-wrinkle moisturizer – GlycoShea™ Facial&Neck Cream and GlycoShea™ Hand&Body Cream – through Big River Silk™ Skincare – of which I’m the President. GlycoShea is helpful as both an effective lubricant and an anti-wrinkle cream because it’s free of fragrances, dyes, propylene glycol, and sulfates, but contains Glycolic Acid, an Alpha-Hydroxy Acid originally discovered in sugarcane and pineapple (www.Bigriversilkskincare.com).
So if you or a family member is suffering from itching, burning or recurrent rashes, you could be suffering from eczema. Never itch in silence! Find a Dermatologist near you by going to the American Academy of Dermatology web site, AAD.org, and plugging your zip code into the “Find a Dermatologist” tab.
George Woodbury Jr. M.D.
Board-certified Dermatologist, Rheumatology and Dermatology Associates
President, Big River Silk Skincare Inc. (www.Bigriversilkskincare.com)
8143 Walnut Grove Road
Cordova TN 38018