Could This New Cream Be the Answer to Eczema Flare-Ups?
Say goodbye to itchy, flaky skin.
If you’re one of the nearly 32 million Americans dealing with some form of eczema, then you’re no stranger to rough, itchy patches on your arms or red, flaky skin on your face. “These symptoms are the direct consequence of inflammation causing damage to the skin’s protective outer layer,” says Dr. Rachel Maiman, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Marmur Medical. “When the barrier’s integrity is compromised, moisture is allowed to escape and microbes are more feasibly allowed to enter, which triggers inflammation and irritation.”
The underlying cause of atopic dermatitis, the most common form of eczema, isn’t entirely known (triggers include stress, allergies, and changes in weather, says Dr. Maiman, but flares can pop up seemingly out of nowhere), which makes it difficult to manage. For years, treatment has been limited to topical steroids, which aren’t great for long-term use because of potential side effects, and over-the-counter treatments, which aren’t as effective. There are also systemic medications, adds Dr. Maiman, which has its own undesirable side effects. Plus, patients who deal with the symptoms of atopic dermatitis, like itching, may not show any visible symptoms, making their treatment process more difficult. Throw in the fact that many people see treatments decline in efficacy over time, and you can see why eczema patients struggle to find a long-term solution that manages their eczema and moisturizes without irritating their skin even further. Until now.
Photo: Courtesy of Incyte Corp.
What is Opzelura?
Late last year, the FDA approved Opzelura, a topical cream, for the short-term and noncontinuous treatment of mild-to-moderate atopic dermatitis. And with most commercial insurances, it only costs $10. “Opzelura works by selectively blocking the pathways that drive inflammation, itch, and skin barrier dysfunction in atopic dermatitis,” says Dr. Maiman. “It’s a breakthrough in that it is the first nonsteroidal, non-injectable medication that specifically targets the signaling of key immune system messengers critical to the inflammatory response in atopic dermatitis.”
What makes someone a good candidate for Opzelura?
According to Dr. Maiman, if you’re not immunocompromised, over 12 years old, and up to 20 percent of your body surface area is affected by eczema, you’re probably a good candidate for Opzelura. “In addition to these criteria, great candidates for Opzelura include patients who have lost durability of response to existing therapies and patients who are unable to tolerate topical steroids,” adds Dr. Maiman.
Are there any side effects?
Like any topical medications, says Dr. Maiman, the most common side effect is local irritation. Most of the other risks are theoretical ones, which include an increased risk of infection, that haven’t been reliably shown to occur with use topically, she adds.
How long does it take to see results?
In clinical trials, after four weeks of using the cream, 46 percent of patients achieved clear or almost clear skin, says Dr. Maiman, and that number goes up to 54 percent after eight weeks. And for those dealing with itchiness? “That’s been reported to improve as early as three days into treatment,” she adds.
How long are you able to use Opzelura?
“Technically speaking, the clinical trial followed patients for a duration of 8 weeks, and no data exists to date on use beyond this timeframe,” says Dr. Maiman. “Data following patients up to a year is pending. However, in practice, I would say, and most dermatologists I think would agree, that patients should use the medication until their skin is clear, then discontinue and resume application as needed for flares.”
In general, one of the best things you can do to manage your eczema, especially when the cold, dry temperatures threaten to wreck your skin barrier, is to find a soothing, water-based moisturizer with emollients like ceramides, colloidal oatmeal, and shea butter. Ahead, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite picks to incorporate into your routine.
Shop Soothing Winter Skin Products:
Photo: Victor Virgile/ Getty
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