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 what-is-eczema.com. 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.
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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
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.
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!