Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any Side Effects?

One of the biggest advantages of Eczemaderm, as opposed to traditional treatments, is that these are no side effects. As well, there is no limit to the frequency of applications. Unlike all currently available treatments, Eczemaderm does not suppress the body's immune system. To fully appreciate the safety of Eczemaderm we have included a comparison to current treatments.

What Current Treatments for Eczema are Available?

1. Corticosteroids:

Physicians have use corticosteroids as their drugs of choice for the treatment of eczema. The reason they are chosen is because of their nonspecific anti-inflammatory action. They suppress the body's immune system and the underlying reactive mechanisms. However because corticosteroids suppress the immune system, they can have serious permanent side effects.

In general, the greater the damage to the stratum corneum, the greater the absorption of topically applied drugs. In cases of eczema, damage to the protective stratum corneum layer can be extensive. Therefore applying a corticosteroid could lead to a fair amount of drug being absorbed into the body.

Occluded (covered) areas and certain areas of the body such as the face are more prone to the development of side effects due to the use of corticosteroids. Some of these side effects include worsening of acne, dermal atrophy (thinning of the skin), localized fine hair growth, bruising, hypo-pigmentation (loss of skin color), striae (stretch marks), and telangiectasia caused by corticosteroids are usually permanent. Application of corticosteroids to areas around the eye can lead to increased intraocular pressure, glaucoma, cataracts, increased risk of ocular mycotic infections, and worsening of re-existing herpes simplex infections.

In worse case scenarios, systemic absorption of topically applied corticosteroids can occur. This can lead to potential serious side effects. They include impaired would healing leading to bacterial infection, osteoporosis, and peptic ulcer disease. Systemic absorption, in theory, may also cause adrenal gland suppression. The adrenal gland serves a vital function in the body by secreting cortisol. If systemic absorption of topical corticosteroids is too great, the adrenal gland begins to decrease its output of cortisol. Cortisol has many different types of stress such as illness, injury and temperature extremes. Without cortisol the body is unable to perform these functions because cortisol helps to regulate the body's use of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Young children absorb topically applied corticosteroids to a greater extent, and have a greater chance of developing adrenal suppression.

One final problem due to corticosteroid application is a rebound of eczema when topical corticosteroids are withdrawn. Unfortunately, it is therefore possible to develop a dependence like state while using corticosteroid therapy.

2. Elidel:

Elidel is one of the newer treatments for eczema that is available. However, Elidel has numerous side effects. It is interesting to note Elidel (Pimecrolimus) is a chemical cousin to Tacrolimus, which is used as an immunosuppressive agent to prevent organ rejection following an organ transplant. By using Elidel, one would be applying to their skin a similar type of medicine that a patient would be taking after receiving a liver or kidney transplant. Because of the immune system suppressing action of Elidel, the body may not be as efficient as it normally is to fight infection. Therefore, Elidel users show higher incidence of viral infections. Not safe to use on children under 2 years of age.

Who is at Risk for Getting Eczema?

Some people are more susceptible to having eczema than others. In general, people with eczema have an increased family history of hay fever, asthma and chronic rhinitis. In addition to family history, other factors include exposure to natural substances such as house dust mites, molds, furry pets, pollen, penicillin, and certain foods. With respect to food, five types are identified as frequent culprits. Beginning with the most problematic, they are eggs, milk, peanuts, soy, and wheat. Climate can also have a major impact on eczema. Some eczema sufferers experience clearing in the summer sun and worsening in the dry, cold air of winter. However, heat and sweating will worsen the skin condition. It is interesting to note that eczema sufferers usually have an intolerance to wool. One final culprit known to trigger an eczema reaction is stress.

Our skin is the largest single organ in the body and its thickness ranges from 3 to 5 millimeters. There are three layers that make up our skin: epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous tissue. The top layer of the skin is the epidermis, and is made up of 4 distinct layers. Its most important function is to serve as a barrier. It prevents loss of water and electrolytes while protecting our body from entry of foreign materials, chemical poisons, and radiation. The top layer of the epidermis is called the stratum corneum, and this provides the barrier function. Within the stratum corneum we have a semipermeable membrane made up of lipids. These cells store lipid soluble substances, and resist physical and chemical damage. Removal of this lipid membrane destroys the regulatory function of the stratum corneum. Underneath the stratum corneum layer, we have the keratin layer. Keratin absorbs and retains water and regulates skin hydration. Skin hydration is normally 10 to 20% water by weight. When hydration drops below 10%, the stratum corneum becomes brittle and cracks easily, allowing foreign materials to enter.

Because of this damage, the body's immune system is stimulated and begins to produce antibodies called "IgE". As many as 85% of patients with eczema have high levels of IgE antibodies which correlate with the severity of the disease. Another component of the immune system called eosinophils are also responsible for the eczema reaction by producing pro-inflammatory products in the skin. When this inflammation or eczema reaction first onsets, the earliest and mildest change us erythema (redness) caused by engorgement and dilation of the small blood vessels. It is even possible in severe cases to see edema (swelling) caused by leakage of fluid from blood vessels and accumulation in tissues. Because of this immune system induced inflammation the skin becomes intensely pruritic (itchy) and leads to constant scratching of the area. The clinical presentation of eczematous skin lesions represents skin changes induced by this constant scratching. If left untreated, the constant scratching may lead to a bacterial infection.