Seeking Possible Eczema Treatments

My skin story is an ongoing struggle with eczema. Though the low nickel diet has drastically reduced and improved my eczema, it’s not a cure or a perfect remedy. I still use prescriptive creams and experience patches of dry itchy and often embarrassing skin. The patches where my eczema appears, I thought would always consistently remain on my eyelids, around my lips and neck. However lately I’ve been experiencing terrible eczema on my hands, inner elbows and on one of my ears.

Even when I’m the most consistent with the low nickel diet, using my nickel free or low nickel cookware and eating the low nickel diet at home, sometimes my atopic dermatitis will still react. I’ll wake up with scaly itchy eczema patches and it will still itch. My eczema isn’t nearly as severe as it once was, but my skin and that atopic dermatitis truly is a chronic condition.Knowing about Dupixent (dupilumab) I spoke with my dermatologist this past May to see if I might be a good candidate to try the new biologic drug. Learning it prevents the immune system from identifying allergens, it’s ability to treat atopic dermatitis has been a wonder drug for so many with severe eczema. However I shared my concerns of paying for the drug. To my knowledge each shot costs approximately $1,500 and the recommended dosage is two self-administered shots monthly. Without health insurance and a program that helps pay for the prescription there’d be no ways I could even consider this alternative.

Grateful for the outstanding health insurance coverage and access to health care where I live, I understand a business’ need to try to control costs. I’ve been lucky, the majority of my physicians take me seriously when I discuss health issues, ask a myriad of questions and desire an alternative to pills, creams or shots. Personally I am extremely skeptical of using any prescriptions to treat health issues when hydration, diet and exercise could work.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the magic of ibuprofen and antibiotics when I’m seriously sick. Yet, so many prescriptions have side effects that are worse than the actual medical issue the drugs are supposed to treat. What I do think is crazy about the American healthcare system is health insurance companies dictating courses of treatment to patients. I truly understand that medical inflation is three times the rate of regular inflation, which is an entirely different discussion. But in my attempt to get pre-authorized for Dupixent (dupilumab), it was my health insurance company telling my doctor the next course of treatment I had to try before they’d preauthorized his medical recommendation.

I don’t like sharing pictures of my inflamed skin. Yet, my eczema is one of the reasons I am now growing out my hair.

When I was first diagnosed with a systemic nickel allergy in 2009, I was prescribed Elidel and Desonide. I prefered using Elidel because it is not a steroid, but it also didn’t do anything to reduce my eczema but made my skin feel oily. Instead of continuing to waste my time with a non-working solution, I have used desonide off an on for almost 10 years.

Desonide has worked great when my eczema is flaring out of control, red, inflamed and hurts from the inside. In those situations, I use it as prescribed 1-2 times a day. At the same time, I’ve always been nervous about using it too often as it can thin the skin, especially if your skin during use is exposed to sun. Since I use it on my eyelids, around my lips and on my neck, I fear my skin thinning and I don’t really even know what that could mean long term.

In my attempt to try Dupixent (dupilumab), I was given samples of Eucrisa (Crisaborole) and prescribed Protopic (Tacrolimus) ointment. Really wanting to know its effectiveness I ate the most delectable arugula and red leaf steak salad tossed in a blueberry vinaigrette. When I woke up the next day, unsurprisingly, my eczema was red and ready for the new solution. I used Protopic on my face and neck eczema believing it would be like Elidel or Desonide and only feel oily. Hell no, within an hour, my skin literally felt like it was on fire, like it had experienced a chemical burn. Washing it off only made the situation worse until finally it was washed away. Questioning if this was the experience because my skin was severely inflamed, I tried the ointment three more times. Nope, every time I applied it on my skin this prescription continued to make my skin feel like it was on fire from the inside. Instead I also tried the Eucrisa (Crisaborole) and nothing changed.

Returning to my dermatologist, he said my health insurance company yet again is requiring I try another option before I can try Dupixent (dupilumab). One of the prescriptions I can’t recall, but the one we determined to try instead is the oral pill.

Taking the drug requires my blood work and health be closely monitored, as the drug can cause “shaking, headaches, dizziness, unusual growth of body hair, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, stomach upset or flushing may occur” or “kidney problems…signs of liver disease…slow/irregular heartbeat…seizures, chest pain.” I filled the prescription and thoroughly spoke to my pharmacist, who mentioned long term use has in some instances caused types of cancer. If the drug’s disclosure needs to say “remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects,” I question taking it all together. In my circumstance, it’s really my health insurance company, not my doctor suggesting I try this medication.

In the end the possible side effects scared me and I can’t make myself take the prescription. I’d rather deal with the ongoing eczema and not put my body through any of those possible side effects. So for now, I’m sticking to the low nickel diet and using Desonide and Benadryl when my skin is severely inflamed. In addition I try to limit my stress and enjoy relief from hiking, meditation and acupuncture.

There are days when I feel my eczema isn’t that bad and other days when the itching drives me crazy. The low nickel diet has truly been a blessing and I am so grateful it’s been such a successful solutions for me, even if it isn’t a perfect solution.

Have you heard or tried Dupixent (dupilumab)? I’d love to hear your skin story or what’s helped or worked well for you in the comment section below.

10 comments
  1. You really have been a blessing to us. It’s so encouraging to know things we’re experiencing are normal and that we aren’t alone. Thank you so much!

    1. JD,
      Thanks for your comment and appreciation! I agree it’s helpful for all of us to know our experiences aren’t isolated, but shared, especially when things are difficult.
      Warm regards,
      Christy

    2. I have been using Eucrisa for about 4 mos and has decreased the eczema. Its now only on my arms. I use it 2x daily no side effects. The itching goes away. I did research on dupixent. Spoke to nurse at Regeron. I saw side effects…can hurt the corneas of eyes and cause dry eye. I already have blepharitis and glaucoma in family…she said don’t even think of it. Its $37,000 yr. I got approved by insurance but turned it down. Money making pharmacies..drs getting kickbacks..insurance companies making money. Women are losing their hair. Pharmacists don’t fill enough prescriptions. It’s too new a drug..it’s a public relations movement on tv now. I’m staying with Eucrisa and 100% petroleum jelly. I dread getting up and living with this. It wears you down. Makes you depressed. 8 straight months now. My loss of my 16 yr old yorkie put my immune system in overdrive.

      1. Hi Linda,
        That’s great Eucrisa has decreased your eczema without side effects. I understand how challenging living with atopic dermatitis can be, in addition to dealing with personal loss. Hang in there.
        Christy

  2. Hi,
    I had a patch test done because I was battling eczema for five years. I am allergic mostly to fragrance and a few other things and nickel. Supposedly only contact allergies.
    After one year staying away as much as I can from my triggers, I am still braking out, all over. My naturopathic doctor and other sources blaming it on a congested liver.
    The liver can not detox enough so it releases it through the skin.
    At the moment I am trying to detox the natural way through food: smoothies, coconut oil and beet kvass. Hopefully that will help. But it is hard to say if I am detoxing or braking out from allergies. Only time will tell, very frustrating. Heidi

    1. Hi Heidi,
      Thanks for your comment. That’s interesting to learn about congested liver and liver detox. I hope your attempts to “detox the natural way” work to resolve your eczema.
      I am allergic to nickel, though I don’t regularly react when I come in physical contact with nickel. They say that the more you come in contact with nickel the more sensitive you become and overtime my nickel allergy became systemic or internal to where I react when I eat foods. The low nickel diet has been the most effective way for me to resolve my eczema.
      Warm regards,
      Christy

  3. I have been on Dupixent since April. It was a month-long battle for my dermatologist and her nurse to get my insurance to allow me to do it. I qualified for this special program that Dupixent offers, so I do not have to pay for my injections (Praise God). I do two injections a month on my own, which was pretty daunting at first but I have gotten used to it. Within the first month I noticed that my itching had stopped. The second month I still experienced a little itching but it was manageable.
    The side effects (for me) are the drying of the skin on my eyelids, around my eyes, and my mouth. I have to moisturize twice a day so that my dry skin does not show. The dry skin does not itch, but it it is pretty visible. There has also been some skin discoloration due to the dry skin.
    I also really like Eucrisa, but my insurance company did not want me to use it. Crazy! It was the best ointment I had ever used on my eczema and dermatitis. My dermatologist gave me samples as long as she could.

    1. Hi Shayla,
      Thanks for you comment and sharing your own story. That’s wonderful to hear you were able to get pre-approved for dupixent. That’s interesting your still experience eczema symptoms despite the itch being removed. I would have believed the eczema would disappear, since the drug is preventing the immune system from reacting. I do believe it’s crazy your insurance company wouldn’t allow you to continue using Eurisa if it worked well for you. I’m ever so grateful for my health insurance, but the literal hoops we have to jump through for paid health care, I could do without.
      Best,
      Christy

  4. I use a product called Infinite Aloe and love that it is all natural. Infinite aloe is a smooth lotion that is cooling, soothing and you can use it multiple times a day . You can get it online so it is very convenient. Sometimes when I break out it is like tiny blisters and feels like a burn. Infinite Aloe really takes the pain away fast.

    1. Hi Bernie,
      Thanks for your comment. I checked out Infinite Aloe online. That’s great it works well for calming down your skin. Unfortunately, because it contains Isopropyl Palmitate (from coconut) it wouldn’t be great for my skin. Coconut always causes my skin to react!
      Warm regards,
      Christy

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