In the next couple of years a number of new exciting topical and injectable treatments will be available for patients who are suffering from severe atopic eczema aka atopic dermatitis.
In the 17 years that I have been working in the field of dermatology there has never been a time like this for atopic eczema. We know that Atopic eczema affects 1 in 5 children. Dermatologists and scientists have gradually pieced together the jigsaw and we are now finally beginning to reap the benefits from years of research into the understanding of how and why atopic eczema occurs. A number of genes thought to be responsible for eczema have been discovered and new treatments have been created as a result.
In my NHS practice as both a paediatric dermatologist and a general adult dermatologist I care for an increasing number of children and adults with really severe eczema. The severity of their eczema has a significant impact on their sleep quality, time spent in education, participation in sport, work and lifestyle in general. In the past dermatologists have been restricted with a limited pool of treatments that they can use to help their patients with eczema. We have essentially been limited to a variety of topical emollients, topical steroids and a few potent immunosuppressive therapies that have used mostly in transplant medicine.
However, if you look at the enormous number of new drugs in development ( see new treatments) you can see that the landscape is finally changing. Patients with eczema will always need their moisturizers and emollients to repair the barrier of their skin but the new targeted therapies appear to be very good at controlling the inflammatory component of eczema and symptoms such as itch.
I have just returned from the European Academy of Dermatology Spring Symposium in Brussels and for the first time in many years I am really excited about the developments in the treatment of atopic eczema. At long last we appear to have some new treatments to offer our patients. I do find it very frustrating that the vast majority of these new biologic drugs will only have licenses for adult patients. The children with severe eczema will have to wait longer despite the huge numbers of children affected by this condition. Perhaps some of the new topical treatments will be available sooner for children. Although I am not holding my breath. I just hope that the funding for these new drugs will be available in the post-Brexit era.
Dr Tim Clayton – Consultant Dermatologist Manchester, UK