24 May 2018
THURSDAY, May 24, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Sufferers of severe eczema may be at greater risk for heart attack, stroke and irregular heartbeat, British researchers report. Although the added risk is small, it’s important from a public health perspective because eczema affects up to 10 percent of adults, the researchers said. Eczema is a term for several types of skin swelling marked by dry, itchy skin and rashes. Because this was an observational study, the researchers couldn’t prove eczema caused the increased heart disease risk. But they said that, given the large number of people included in the study, the association appears strong. Dr. Sinead Langan, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, led the international research team. To quantify the risk, the researchers analyzed data for more than 385,000 adults (average age 43) with eczema. Each was matched with up to five people of similar age and gender who didn’t have eczema. Patients were classified as having mild, moderate or severe eczema and were followed for an average of five years. Those with severe eczema had a 20 percent increased risk of stroke and a 40 percent to 50 percent greater risk of unstable angina, heart attack, atrial fibrillation and death from heart disease. This group also had a 70 percent increased risk for heart failure, the study authors said. These risks remained after the researchers accounted for such factors as weight, smoking and alcohol use. Their findings were published May 23 in the journal BMJ. “Severe and predominantly active atopic eczema are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular outcomes. Targeting cardiovascular prevention strategies among these patients should be considered,” the researchers said in a journal news release. In an accompanying editorial, Dr. John Ingram, a consultant dermatologist at Cardiff University in Wales, said these results helped clarify the conflicting evidence about eczema and heart disease risk. The findings may also shed light on the value of using costly new biologic drugs to control severe eczema. Exploring whether these drugs can reduce heart disease risks is the next step, Ingram said. More information To learn more about eczema, visit the American Academy of Dermatology.
03 May 2018
THURSDAY, May 3, 2018 (HealthDay News) — A treatment that harnesses the power of helpful bacteria living naturally on the skin might be a breakthrough treatment for eczema, early research suggests. The therapy capitalizes on recent insights into the importance of the “microbiome” — the trillions of helpful bacteria that live in people’s digestive tracts and on their skin. “By applying bacteria from a healthy source to the skin of people with atopic dermatitis [eczema], we aim to alter the skin microbiome in a way that will relieve symptoms and free people from the burden of constant treatment,” explained the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Ian Myles. Eczema is an inflammatory skin ailment that renders the skin itchy and dry, and vulnerable to rashes and infections. Both adults and children can suffer from the condition. The exact cause of the illness isn’t known, but it’s believed that bacteria and other microbes that live on the skin could play a major role. In the new research, live Roseomonas mucosa — a bacterium that’s naturally present on the skin — was taken from people without eczema and applied to the skin of 10 adult and five pediatric eczema patients. Twice weekly for six weeks, adult participants spritzed sugar water containing increasing amounts of the “good” bacteria onto their inner elbow and one other skin area of their choice. They also continued with their regular eczema treatment. Kids in the study underwent a similar protocol for 12 weeks, then upped the dose to every other day for another four weeks. After a few weeks, the severity of the patients’ eczema was reduced, and some reported being able to cut back on steroid creams they’d used to treat their eczema. No complications from the treatment were reported, according to the study authors. Overall, six of the 10 adults and four of the five children had a greater than 50 percent improvement in their eczema symptoms by the end of the trial. “This study has exciting potential for one day having a treatment for the millions of sufferers of eczema,” said Dr. Michele Green, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “What is most exciting is that the ‘cure’ may be through the skin microbiome itself,” said Green, who wasn’t involved in the new study. There was one other interesting finding: Certain chemicals called parabens, commonly found in moisturizers and other skin care products, were found to inhibit the growth of R. mucosa. That suggests that these products might hinder the skin’s defenses against eczema, Myles’ group said. The research was funded by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and published May 3 in the journal JCI Insight. “If future clinical studies demonstrate that this strategy is effective, we hope our work will lead to development of new, low-cost atopic dermatitis therapies that do not require daily application,” Myles, an NIAID researcher, said in an institute news release. Dr. Anthony Fauci is the agency’s director. “Living with atopic dermatitis can be physically and emotionally challenging,” he said in the release. “While treatment can help manage the symptoms, currently available therapies can be time-consuming — requiring multiple daily applications — and costly. “New, inexpensive therapies that require less frequent application are needed to expand the options available for atopic dermatitis treatment,” Fauci said. More information The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases has more on eczema.
07 December 2017
THURSDAY, Dec. 7, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Bathing in water is just as effective for the treatment of eczema as bathing in a bleach solution, a new review of previous research indicates. Doctors sometimes recommend a bleach bath, which is a mixture of a small amount of bleach in a pool of cool or warm water. But investigators say the finding should encourage people with eczema to bathe regularly with just water, without fear of drying out their skin. It should also help people avoid the stinging and burning that can come with a bleach bath. “I don’t know if it throws the baby out with the bathwater, but bleach baths lack the evidence to support how commonly they are being recommended,” said senior author Dr. Jonathan Silverberg. “The water baths appear to be doing most of the heavy lifting. If bleach is adding any benefit, it’s quite modest.” Silverberg is an assistant professor of dermatology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago and director of its Multidisciplinary Eczema Center. Bathing with a bleach solution is sometimes prescribed as a means of controlling both bacterial infection and symptoms, the researchers noted. But their review, which analyzed data from four earlier studies, suggests that it’s no more effective at either task than simply bathing in water. In addition, because many people with eczema also struggle with asthma, bleach fumes can also trigger asthma attacks. “Patients with eczema have much higher rates of asthma than non-eczema patients,” Silverberg said in a Northwestern news release. “Everyone’s home setting is going to be different, and many bathrooms don’t have great ventilation, so a warm bath that causes the bleach to fume can be the perfect setup to potentially have an asthma flare-up,” he said. The findings are outlined in a recent issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. More information The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has more on eczema.
04 December 2017
MONDAY, Dec. 4, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Parents can get a reliable diagnosis for their child’s skin condition simply by taking a smartphone photo and sending it to a dermatologist, new research suggests. The finding offers a way to get around what experts describe as a dire shortage of pediatric dermatologists. “Advances in smartphone photography, both in quality and image transmission, may improve access to care via direct parent-to-provider telemedicine,” said study author Dr. Patrick McMahon. He is a pediatric dermatologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “Our study shows that — for the majority of cases — parents can take photographs of sufficient quality to allow for accurate teledermatology diagnoses in pediatric skin conditions,” McMahon said in a hospital news release. “This is important because pediatric dermatologists are in short supply, with fewer than 300 board-certified physicians serving the nation’s 75 million children,” he added. The study involved 40 families. Half of them were given photo-taking instructions, while the other half were not. Most were using an Apple iPhone. The researchers then analyzed all images of pediatric skin conditions that were sent in between March and September of 2016. Of 87 images, a digital diagnosis was in sync with an in-person diagnosis 83 percent of the time, according to the report. The study authors noted that of the 200 million pediatric office visits that take place across the United States each year, 10 percent to 30 percent involve skin concerns. “While many children’s skin conditions can be handled without input from a pediatric dermatologist, the national shortage of specialists is a known barrier to accessing care,” McMahon explained. “Our findings suggest that telemedicine could improve access for patient families who have geographic, scheduling or financial limitations, as well as reducing wait times,” he said. The findings were published recently in the journal JAMA Dermatology. More information The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more on skin conditions.