Immunosuppressants are a second line treatment for eczema.
They work by suppressing the immune system. An over-active immune system can cause inflammation of the skin, a major symptom of eczema.
There are three main brands that you may be given to treat your eczema
Ciclosporin used to be called cyclosporin in the UK. In the US it is called cyclosporine.
It's brand name is Neoral. It is available as capsules and as an oral solution.
It is given for a short term course. Usually for up to 3 months. It may start being effective straight away. Though it may take up to 4 weeks for any improvement to show.
It is prescribed for a short time as there is a worry that it may cause kidney and/or liver problems. While taking ciclosporin, your doctor would monitor you. You would also be given regular tests to check that everything is normal.
You would be advised to avoid eating and drinking grapefruit and grapefruit juice just before taking. It can increase the absorption of ciclosporin into the bloodstream and can affect treatment.
It's brand name is Imuran. It is available as tablets and as an injection.
It can be taken long term. You may not notice any difference in the condition of your eczema for a couple of weeks.
It's brand name is Cellcept. It is available as capsules and tablets.
This treatment is also usually taken long term. It may take a couple of months for any improvement to show.
With all treatments, it is still important to use emollients on your skin. Your skin needs to be moisturised regularly to prevent further damage. You can also still use topical steroid treatments.
Whichever treatment you are prescribed, your doctor will monitor your progress. They will look at the condition of your eczema, and also look out for any potential side effects.
There are a few side effects that are associated with taking the above immunosuppressants
It is advised that you visit your doctor if you get an infection, feel feverish or have any bleeding that is unexpected.
As immunosuppressants are taken under the guidance of a doctor this reduces the chance of suffering with any of the side effects.
They also ensure that you given the correct type of immunosuppressant, and the right dosage.
The dosage given depends on a few factors
They can all be taken by adults and children.
They are not recommended to be taken if you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breastfeeding.
There are a few things
to avoid while being treated
If you take the treatment as directed by your doctor, and keep an eye on how you feel while taking it, an immunosuppressant can be a massive help in treating severe stubborn eczema.