Living with Moderate Eczema and Finding Long-Term Relief
November 14, 2023
For much of Cristal’s life, she struggled to manage her chronic eczema symptoms. Now she inspires others to remain hopeful on their journey as they explore treatment options to manage this serious disease. This is her story.
When people think of eczema, they might picture mildly itchy rashes or patches of dry skin. However, in moderate-to-severe cases, the disease can be much more than that. Also known as atopic dermatitis (or AD), moderate-to-severe eczema can cause more intense signs and symptoms like persistent itching, and dry, cracked rashes on the skin that can bleed, crust, or ooze.1
The disease can be hereditary and triggered by environmental allergens or other factors, and it is estimated that 2.6 million people in the U.S. ages 6 months and older have uncontrolled moderate-to-severe eczema.2,3,4
Cristal, a 26-year-old product developer, was diagnosed with moderate eczema when she was less than a year old with itchy, irritated patches appearing primarily on her hands and around her mouth. Her parents would constantly tell her to stop scratching and would use gauze to bandage her cracked skin at night.
As Cristal got older, she became more aware of how others perceived her moderate eczema. “My hands, in particular my thumb, were the places on my body that had the most eczema, which is hard when you’re a kid because you use your hands a lot in school,” she said. “Other kids would often ask me, ‘What’s wrong with your thumb?’, and sometimes I would wrap it up to hide it.”
Cristal and her family thought she would “outgrow” her eczema, but the disease persisted. For years, Cristal and her family tried multiple topical prescription therapies to help alleviate her symptoms. They even tried home remedies, like oatmeal baths, but her symptoms persisted.
“My eczema might be moderate, but “moderate” doesn’t describe how much time and energy I’ve put into coping with my eczema,” Cristal said.
Cristal’s “tipping point” occurred in the summer of 2018 when she experienced a particularly bad flare during a conference trip in Miami. The heat exacerbated her symptoms, and red, dry and scaly patches covered much of her body.
“Every time I met someone, I would say, ‘Hi, I’m Cristal. Please excuse my appearance.’ My friends kept telling me to stop introducing myself like that. They would say, ‘You’re not Cristal with eczema. You’re just Cristal!’ which really meant a lot to me. But I was still uncomfortable with how my skin looked and felt.”
She explained how often she’d think about her eczema, “I always kept my skin in mind when making any kind of plans, from traveling to doing laundry. I was always looking for unscented versions of almost any product. I was miserable the whole time and it was constantly on my mind,” she said, “That’s when I decided I was tired of letting my eczema remain uncontrolled.”
Cristal started seeing a dermatologist when she was around 18 years old. It was then she learned that her eczema is a chronic inflammatory skin disease, that can result in part from an overactive immune system. He recommended Dupixent® (dupilumab) and explained that it’s a biologic that is given by injection under the skin. It works by targeting a key source of inflammation under the skin that can cause eczema. Dupixent is jointly developed by Sanofi and Regeneron.
Dupixent is a prescription medicine used to treat people 6 months of age and older with moderate-to-severe eczema that is not well controlled with prescription therapies used on the skin (topical), or who cannot use topical therapies. People shouldn’t use Dupixent if they are allergic to dupilumab or to its other ingredients. Serious side effects include allergic reactions that can sometimes be severe, eye problems and joint aches and pain. Please see Important Safety Information below.
Before starting Dupixent, Cristal and her dermatologist discussed her medical conditions and other medicines she was taking.
After starting Dupixent, Cristal experienced clearer skin and less itch. In two clinical trials at 16 weeks, four times as many adults on Dupixent saw clear or almost clear skin (37% compared to 9% not taking Dupixent). Additionally, adults on Dupixent experienced significant itch reduction (38% compared to 11% not taking Dupixent).
The most common side effects include injection site reactions, eye and eyelid inflammation, including redness, swelling, and itching, sometimes with blurred vision, cold sores in your mouth or on your lips, and high count of a certain white blood cell (eosinophilia).
“I enjoy wearing dresses and letting my arms free without worrying as much about my eczema. However, this is just my experience with Dupixent, and everyone’s experience is different.”
Cristal has been on Dupixent since the fall of 2018. She is glad to have found a treatment option that works for her in the long-term. Long-term results from a clinical trial that studied Dupixent + topical corticosteroids (TCS) for 52 weeks found that adult patients experienced long-lasting clearer skin at both 16 and 52 weeks (22% on Dupixent plus TCS vs. 7% on TCS only) and itch relief that lasts at 52 weeks (51% on Dupixent plus TCS vs 13% on TCS only).
"It’s important to seek out information about available treatment options and talk with your doctor about a treatment that could work for you in the long-term,” she said. “Do your research so that you know what is available out there, and don’t lose hope!”
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION & INDICATION
Do not use if you are allergic to dupilumab or to any of the ingredients in DUPIXENT®.
Before using DUPIXENT, tell your healthcare provider about all your medical conditions, including if you:
- have eye problems.
- have a parasitic (helminth) infection.
- are scheduled to receive any vaccinations. You should not receive a “live vaccine” right before and during treatment with DUPIXENT.
- are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known whether DUPIXENT will harm your unborn baby.
- A pregnancy registry for women who take DUPIXENT during pregnancy collects information about the health of you and your baby. To enroll or get more information call 1-877-311-8972 or go to https://mothertobaby.org/ongoing-study/dupixent/.
- are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known whether DUPIXENT passes into your breast milk.
Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
Especially tell your healthcare provider if you are taking oral, topical or inhaled corticosteroid medicines or if you have atopic dermatitis and asthma and use an asthma medicine. Do not change or stop your corticosteroid medicine or other asthma medicine without talking to your healthcare provider. This may cause other symptoms that were controlled by the corticosteroid medicine or other asthma medicine to come back.
DUPIXENT can cause serious side effects, including:
- Allergic reactions. DUPIXENT can cause allergic reactions that can sometimes be severe. Stop using DUPIXENT and tell your healthcare provider or get emergency help right away if you get any of the following signs or symptoms: breathing problems or wheezing, swelling of the face, lips, mouth, tongue, or throat, fainting, dizziness, feeling lightheaded, fast pulse, fever, hives, joint pain, general ill feeling, itching, skin rash, swollen lymph nodes, nausea or vomiting, or cramps in your stomach-area.
- Eye problems. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any new or worsening eye problems, including eye pain or changes in vision, such as blurred vision. Your healthcare provider may send you to an ophthalmologist for an eye exam if needed.
- Joint aches and pain. Some people who use DUPIXENT have had trouble walking or moving due to their joint symptoms, and in some cases needed to be hospitalized. Tell your healthcare provider about any new or worsening joint symptoms. Your healthcare provider may stop DUPIXENT if you develop joint symptoms. Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the- counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
The most common side effects in patients with eczema include injection site reactions, eye and eyelid inflammation, including redness, swelling, and itching, sometimes with blurred vision, cold sores in your mouth or on your lips, and high count of a certain white blood cell (eosinophilia).
Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away. These are not all the possible side effects of DUPIXENT. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Use DUPIXENT exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider. It’s an injection given under the skin (subcutaneous injection). Your healthcare provider will decide if you or your caregiver can inject DUPIXENT. Do not try to prepare and inject DUPIXENT until you or your caregiver have been trained by your healthcare provider. In children 12 years of age and older, it’s recommended DUPIXENT be administered by or under supervision of an adult. In children 6 months to less than 12 years of age, DUPIXENT should be given by a caregiver.
DUPIXENT is a prescription medicine used to treat adults and children 6 months of age and older with moderate-to-severe eczema (atopic dermatitis or AD) that is not well controlled with prescription therapies used on the skin (topical), or who cannot use topical therapies. DUPIXENT can be used with or without topical corticosteroids. It is not known if DUPIXENT is safe and effective in children with atopic dermatitis under 6 months of age.
- Atopic Dermatitis. National Eczema Association. https://nationaleczema.org/eczema/types-of-eczema/atopic-dermatitis/. Accessed October 26, 2023.
- Atopic Dermatitis Basics: Overview, Symptoms and Causes. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/atopic-dermatitis/basics/symptoms-causes. Accessed October 26, 2023.
- Atopic Dermatitis Basics: Diagnosis, Treatment, and Steps to Take. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/atopic-dermatitis/basics/diagnosis-treatment-and-steps-to-take. Accessed October 26, 2023.
- Immunology Investor Event Epidemiology. Sanofi. https://www.sanofi.com/assets/dotcom/content-app/events/investor-presentation/2022/2022-immunology-investor-event/Epidemiology_Data_Sanofi_Immunology_Investor_Event_March_29_2022.pdf. Accessed October 26, 2023.