A new ‘cure for eczema’ pill has been signed off – but who is allowed to take it?

·2-min read
Photo credit: Emma Croman - Getty Images
Photo credit: Emma Croman - Getty Images

As anyone with eczema can attest (yep, me too 🙋♀️), the itchy skin condition can be all-consuming at times. That whole cycle of relentless scratching, sweet relief for a mere minute, followed by days of scabbing, bleeding and flaking skin – no matter how many potions you apply? Very much not a vibe. Which is why it's so exciting to hear that the NHS have given a new eczema-eliminating drugs (which are catchily called abrocitinib, upadacitinib and tralokinumab) the green light.

But who is able to take them? And how does it all work?

It's reported that the new tablet(s), which are endorsed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), will be offered to scratchy sufferers who have previously tried alternative treatments (such as moisturising creams and topical steroid creams) and who are over the age of twelve.

However, if your eczema is just limited to one small part of your body, then unfortunately you may not be eligible – as the guidelines suggest the tablet route is only to be an option for those who have eczema on 10% or more of their body surface area, meaning they've been diagnosed with moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis (eczema). One noted downside by some who've tried the pills is an increased risk of infection.

Photo credit: Kiwis - Getty Images
Photo credit: Kiwis - Getty Images

Dr Padma Mohandas, a consultant dermatologist at Barts Health NHS Trust in London, told the Daily Mail that while the skin condition is common, it's not always easy to treat – so this advance in medicine is offering many a great deal of hope. "In the worst cases it's a debilitating disease that leaves patients feeling embarrassed, socially isolated and, in extreme circumstances, suicidal.

"With these new drugs we can offer them hope that their skin will get better, which is life-changing."

Diving a little deeper into the drugs, it's said that abrocitinib and upadacitinib work by inhibiting enzymes called 'janus kinases' that attack the immune system and skin, whilst helping to activate an immune defence response. Tralokinumab is slightly different as it's a monoclonal antibody drug, which sets out to blocks the activity of proteins called 'interleukin-4' and 'interleukin-13' (that cause major inflammation).

It's thought that over 6 million people in the UK suffer from eczema.

Symptoms include red, dry, itchy skin, often behind the backs of the knees and in the inner elbows, or on the hands. As per the NHS, the skin condition can also "disrupt your sleep, make your skin bleed, and cause secondary infections" and impact on concentration.

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