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Eczema Bulletin, Issue #048 - Immunotherapy For Eczema
July 09, 2017

Issue #048 - Immunotherapy for Eczema

Welcome to July's edition of the Eczema Bulletin e-zine, and thank you for subscribing.

This is the 48th edition of the Eczema Bulletin. It will bring you articles and news about eczema, and also any updates to If you would like to add any suggestions for articles or news, or even add your own then I would love to hear from you.

You can contact me here

This month's Eczema Bulletin includes

  • July's Featured Article – Immunotherapy for Eczema
  • My favourite eczema news article
  • Tip of the Month
  • 5 Ways To.....limit the affect of the summer weather

Immunotherapy for Eczema

Immunotherapy has been used for many years as part of treatment for a number of different conditions, including atopic eczema.

Immunotherapy involves adding a known or suspected allergen to the body of the patient. Doing this immunes the body against the allergen/s. Hence the name, immunotherapy.

It helps to reduce the effect the allergy has on the body. This reduces the symptoms that the allergy causes, which include the skin redness and itchiness associated with atopic eczema.

Immunotherapy is given in two ways

  • injection, also known as EPO
  • drops, also known as Neutralisation

Immunotherapy Injections

The injections tend to be given once or twice a week over some months. Over these months the dosage will start small. It is gradually increased until a dose has been found that doesn't cause an allergic reaction, and helps to manage the symptoms. This dose is known as the maintenance dose.

The maintenance dose is given less often, normally once or twice a month. The injections will continue to be given for around 3 to 5 years. Even after they are stopped their benefits are seen for up to 7 years.

There are no long term side effects from the injections, although there is a low risk of anaphylaxis.

Immunotherapy Drops

Drops are given under the tongue. Like the injection, the drops build up the body's immune system to the allergen and reduce the symptoms of the allergy.

They are given daily. Because they are easy to take and they are safe to take, they can be given at home. They may be given for between 3 and 5 years.

Both methods help to reduce the symptoms of the allergic reaction, and also the amount of medication needed to manage the allergy.

They both can also show an immediate improvement in the symptoms, but they need to be taken for at least a few years for them to be beneficial long term.

You should only use immunotherapy after speaking to your doctor, who can refer you to a registered allergy specialist. They will be able to monitor the dosage and your symptoms, and also keep an eye out for any adverse effects.

This is a basic explanation of immunotherapy. I plan to write a more in depth page to add on to the treatments page of the website. I'll update the blog and social media when it is done :)

Eczema News Article

Research published in Nature Genetics has reported that a genetic mutation is responsible for the development of eczema.

Scientists have found that some people have a mutation in the CARD11 gene. This gene is part of the process in the production of the CARD11 protein. Some believe that certain people develop eczema as they don't have the proteins in their skin that protect it from infection.

A study was done involving 8 people from 4 different families. They found that the mutation affected T Cells. T Cells are a type of white blood cell which are necessary for the immune system to respond to infections.

They found 2 of the pathways that send signals for the right response weren't working properly because of the mutation. This could impact how the body deals with allergic reactions and be one of the reasons that eczema develops.

The researchers are next going to look at giving eczema sufferers a supplement of glutamine. Glutamine is an essential amino acid which is needed for normal cell functions. They will be able to see if it helps to correct how the cells work, and if it improves eczema symptoms.

Tip Of The Month - Getting Medical Advice When On Holiday

It's that time of the year where you may be planning your holiday, or have one coming up. When you or your family member have eczema it is worth planning how and where you can get medical advice or treatment when you're on holiday.

It's impossible to cover every single scenario, or this tip would be extremely long, so I've tried to cover the main points.

As I live in the UK, I'm going to start there :)

If you are from the UK and are staying there then you can visit another GP surgery for up to 14 days.

If you are visiting from the EEA or Switzerland, then you need to get a valid European Health Insurance Card, also known as EHIC. You can get one from your home country. The EHIC covers any necessary treatment during your trip. It may not cover every visit and treatment you need, and the card is not an alternative for travel insurance.

If you don't have an EHIC then you may end up paying for treatment at the same rate as the NHS charges.

A quick note, you'll need to apply for one card for each of the people travelling...good news is that they are free.

The EHIC has a great smartphone app which enables you to look at the information in many different languages and also explains how to use the card in the different countries in the EU.

A Visitor From Outside the EU?

If you are a visitor from anywhere outside of the EEA then you need to make sure that you have medical or travel insurance for the time you are away. All you need to do is to contact your insurance provider as soon as possible. They normally work directly with the hospital where you received treatment to sort out the payment of the bill. It is important to be aware that you may find yourself having to pay for the treatment yourself, even if you're covered. This also applies when you're visiting an EU country.

If you're from the UK and visiting the EU then the same rules follow as for EU nationals visiting the UK. Make sure that you have a valid EHIC and travel insurance. I had to get some medical advice when I was in Spain and it cost me around 40 Euros, even though I had an EHIC. It was worth it though so it meant I was reassured and I was able to get some topical treatment.

When visiting most countries outside of the EU you need to make sure that you have travel insurance that covers you for medical expenses. When buying travel insurance look carefully at what is covered. Also look into what medical care you can receive in the country where you are travelling.

Have A Minor Ailment?

If you need treatment for any minor ailments, including if you need some antihistamines, you can visit a chemist or pharmacy. You may be able to get some treatments over the counter which you can't get in your own country. Always check the dosage and directions when you get something over the counter as they can vary in different countries.

A pharmacy may also be able to fill a prescription that you've brought from home, but an easier option would be to do that before you leave home.

There is also the option to visit a local clinic. They tend to be cheaper than hospitals, and may be free. You just need to pay for the treatment upfront, then pass the bill on to your insurance provider to make a claim.

The main message is that it's vital to get great travel insurance, and hopefully you won't have to use it!

Do you have a tip you would like to share? Let me know :)

5 Ways To.......limit the affect of the summer weather

1. Drink plenty of water. Keeping your skin hydrated is part of managing your eczema. When you get hot you sweat more, causing your body to lose more water. This increases the chance of your skin becoming dehydrated, which can make it feel itchy. It's always a good idea to carry a bottle of water at any time of the year, but in the summer it is even more important

2. Use a suitable sunscreen. Look for a sunscreen which is a 'physical blocker'. They work by reflecting the sun's UV rays, which makes them effective at protecting your skin from all UV rays. The most common physical blocks are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. One of their downsides is they don't absorb into the skin as well as other sunscreens. You'll probably find these sunscreens are brightly coloured, so your children will love them. Whichever sunscreen you choose always test a small amount on a small area of skin to check for any irritation

3. Wear loose clothing made from eczema friendly material. The best materials to wear are 100% cotton, linen and bamboo. They are lightweight and allow the skin to breathe. They are natural fibres which absorb moisture, which means it doesn't sit on your skin irritating your skin. Also, wear clothes that are easy to layer, so if you get warm you can remove a layer, and then when it gets a little cooler you can put the layer back on

4. Avoid the sun in the middle of the day. The sun is at it's hottest and most intense between 10 am and 2 pm. If you are out at this time of the day, use the above tips to keep cool, although try to plan your days so you're indoors or in shaded areas at those times

5. Remove sweat. Sweat irritates the skin, and you tend to find it in the folds of the skin, including the inside of the elbows, which is where eczema is known to flare up. Sweat is the body's natural way of cooling the body down so when you remove it, it is a good idea to drink more water. This will help to replace the water lost through sweating, and will also help to keep your body cool. You can gently pat any sweat away using a soft towel or paper towels.

Keeping Up-To-Date With What is Eczema

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The August edition of Eczema Bulletin will include

  • August's Featured Article - Working With Your Child's School
  • My favourite news item of the month
  • Tip of the Month
  • 5 Ways To.....have child friendly and eczema friendly school holidays

Hope you enjoyed July's Eczema Bulletin, and thanks for reading.


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