New trends being discussed at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting has revealed that the skin condition atopic dermatitis (AD) is often going undiagnosed in adults, with many also unaware that there are new treatments that could provide relief from the condition.
More commonly known as eczema, many believe the condition affects mainly babies and young children. However, AD also occurs frequently in adults who often the develop the disease in childhood and carry it through life without it being diagnosed or without receiving their first diagnosis until adulthood.
"Atopic dermatitis (AD) is underdiagnosed in the United States," says allergist Luz Fonacier, MD, ACAAI board member and presenter at the meeting. "Many adults don't seek out medical care, preferring to self-treat instead, either with home remedies or over-the-counter drugs. Often, they aren't aware they have eczema, and they also don't know treatments have changed a lot in the last few years. There are new drugs and topical medications that can make a huge difference in their quality of life."
Although treatment is important not only to treat the main symptom of AD, which is an uncomfortable, itchy rash, symptoms such as dry skin and scaly rashes can also become painful and infected.
In addition, those with eczema can experience problems with sleep and emotional distress, and it can even affect their social life.
By seeing an allergist those suffering can find the right treatment for them, with Mark Boguniewicz, MD, ACAAI member pointing out to patients that, "In the last few years we've seen the introduction of targeted therapies, also known as precision medicine."
These therapies include two new medications that have recently been approved for AD.
The first, crisaborole, sold under the trade name Eucrisa, was approved by the FDA in December 2016. The ointment is the first anti-inflammatory medication to be approved for the treatment of mild to moderate AD in more than 15 years, and helps to reduce the itching, redness and swelling of the skin. It can be applied topically twice daily and is approved not only for adults but also patients 2 years of age or older.
Dupilumab is the second new medication and sold under the name Dupixent. It was approved by the FDA earlier this year in March and is biologic therapy given by injection for patients 18 years or older, making it suitable for those with moderate to severe AD who haven't responded to, or can't use topical medications.
Dupilumab was also approved for use in Europe just last month by the European Commission, however crisaborole is not currently available.
"The takeaway message is that there are effective medications available that help relieve eczema symptoms and now can also target the underlying cause," says Dr Boguniewicz, "People with eczema have been frustrated by the limitations of existing treatments....We expect additional therapies to be approved soon."
The ACAAI meeting is currently taking place from October 26-30 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, MA.