Various forms of eczema treatment have evolved to address different kinds of symptoms associated with eczema, including emergency care aids like immunomodulators. Eczema is actually a broadly-applied term that refers to different kinds of chronic skin conditions that are marked by similar symptoms such as blisters on the skin along with crusting, dryness, flaking, itching and inflammation. When such symptoms surface in a sudden and acute fashion, fast-acting aids like immunomodulators are used.
What Are Immunomodulators
Most immunomodulators used for eczema are essentially topical immunomodulators, i.e. they applied on the skin. Immunomodulators are chemical agents that have the ability to modify the skin's immune reaction for a short time. However, they don't alter the overall immunity mechanism of the individual. Immunomodulators are a bit different from immunosuppresants that tend to affect the overall immunity of an individual. Immunomodulators belong to a very potent category of drugs—the same kind is used during transplantation of bodily organs to ensure that the newly-transplanted organ is not rejected by the recipient.
Topical immunomodulators are recommended to people suffering from mild or moderate eczema, to be kept as an emergency aid. Some immunomodulators can induce a burning sensation. This is particularly true when such creams are used for the first time. The most common topical immunomodulators include:
- Pimecrolimus or Elidel® creams
- Tacrolimus creams
The use of Pimecrolimus is more common among people suffering from atopic dermatitis. This is among the more problematic of eczema variations wherein the skin is extremely pruritic and the patient suffers recurrent relapses of extreme symptoms. Elidel is a preferred topical application since it is non-steroidal and it can immediately alleviate the rash redness caused by eczema. It is among the few options in this niche that is safe for children. The drug is easily absorbed into the skin but doesn't cross into the blood. Apart from the intensity of eczematous flare-ups, it can also reduce the frequency of such episodes.
This is among the more recent of creams in this niche. Just like Pimecrolimus, Tacrolimus is a calcineurin-inhibitor. Calcineurin is responsible for activating the T-cells in the human immune system. This over-stimulation of the immune system is responsible for the exaggerated eczema symptoms. Tacrolimus is reputed to be safe for sustained usage over a period, though it is mainly recommended as a last-minute resort to combat eczema attacks.
Precautions for Immunomodulator Usage in Eczema Treatment
Immunomodulators are available as prescription medications and they should never be used without medical opinion. Though these seem to be much safer than the conventional steroids prescribed for eczema, they are meant for minimal use under specific circumstances. Ideally, they should be used only when there is a flare-up of eczema symptoms that doesn't seem to subside with the usual course of medicines or medical aids being used by the patient.
Topical immunomodulators are usually not recommended when the individual is also suffering from virus infections like herpes simplex or herpes zoster. This is because even the shortest phases of lowered immunity of the skin can cause the virus to multiply uncontrollably, inducing far worse symptoms.
People with unhealed eczema patches may suffer from an initial phase of contraindicative reactions upon using immunomodulator creams. Most dermatologists recommend not using such creams for more than a few days and never using them on children who are under two years old.