For the estimated 15 million Americans with eczema -- a chronic skin disease in which the skin becomes itchy with red patches of inflamed skin -- finding effective, long-lasting treatments was a difficult and frustrating process.
Now, two new non-steroidal medications recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are improving the quality of life for eczema patients of all ages and offering hope as potential treatment options for patients with other hard-to-treat skin conditions.
Dermatologist Nancy J. Anderson, M.D., a professor of dermatology and residency director at Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California, presented research on the effectiveness of topical immunomodulators for treating vitiligo, psoriasis and allergic contact dermatitis.
Winning the Battle Against Eczema
Until recently, topical corticosteroids were the mainstay for treating eczema. While effective, patients treated with these medications reported a number of side effects including thinning of the skin, formation of dilated blood vessels, stretch marks and infection.
The introduction of two new topical immunomodulators -- pimecrolimus and tacrolimus -- provided eczema patients with a steroid-free alternative to traditional therapies, without these common side effects. When applied topically in a cream or ointment, these therapies produce powerful anti-inflammatory effects on the skin without interfering with the body's immune system.
"Short-term and long-term studies of both pimecrolimus and tacrolimus show that both medications are safe and effective for eczema patients of all ages, even infants," said Dr. Anderson. "Being able to treat infants as young as three months old in studies is an important development, as approximately 10 percent to 20 percent of all infants have eczema and many may require long-term or even lifelong treatment for their condition. However, presently they are FDA-approved for children age 2 and older."
In addition, Dr. Anderson explained that pimecrolimus and tacrolimus are being studied as viable new treatment options for a number of inflammatory skin diseases.
American Academy of Dermatology