By Sarah Kinonen. Photos: Getty Images.
Two summers ago in the dead of sticky, sweaty, and humid July, I started scratching. And not just scratching, but really, really digging deep into my skin all the time. I desperately tried everything to stop the madness — cutting out certain products for fear of allergies, over-moisturizing, even regularly switching out my sheets — but nothing worked. Zip. Zero. Nada. Then, my incessant itching began causing splotches of bright red rashes that wouldn't die down. That's when I finally sucked it up and made an appointment with my doctor. After a quick exam, I was informed that my scratching was brought on by atopic dermatitis, otherwise known as eczema, and I was given a much-needed prescription for a steroid medication. If only I had known about Dupixent, the newly-approved treatment for this common problem — but more on that in a second. First, let's talk about what eczema actually is.
Eczema, a condition in which the skin cannot protect itself from the environment, can cause the skin to lose hydration, become inflamed, and is more prone to infection, explains Joshua Zeichner, a New York City-based dermatologist. In adults, eczema typically occurs along the inside of the elbows and knees, says Zeichner.
While I've finally figured out how to control my itch triggers since that dark, dark summer, I know there are others still struggling to combat the scratch. According to a recent report by the American Academy of Dermatology, more than 85 million people in the U.S. are affected by skin diseases, including eczema. Luckily, there's a new solution on the horizon — albeit a very pricey solution.
The FDA just announced the approval of Dupixent, an injection treatment for adults with moderate-to-severe eczema. The downside? Its hefty price tag. Dupixent will be available to patients for $37,000 a year, reports The New York Times. Yikes.
Don't get me wrong, this approval is still a BFD. As Zeichner points out, Dupixent is the first biologic medication — injected into the skin — to target those with flareups that aren't typically soothed by topical treatments. According to a statement made by the FDA, Dupixent works thanks to dupilumab, its active ingredient which is "an antibody that binds to a protein [interleukin-4 (IL-4) receptor alpha subunit (IL-4Ra)], that causes inflammation." Breaking that down: by binding to the protein, Dupixent restrains the inflammatory response which can ultimately lead to the development of eczema.
Unfortunately, with the cost so high, not everyone with severe eczema will be able to afford Dupixent. This is why Zeichner recommends keeping a consistent skin-care routine to help soothe itch and inflammation. "All eczema patients should use a daily moisturizer to help maintain hydration and keep the skin barrier healthy," he advises. Our recommendation? One of these flareup-fighting formulas to keep the itch at bay.
This story originally appeared on Allure.
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