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ABSTRACT: Atopic dermatitis is a common problem affecting up to 10 percent of all children. The mainstays of therapy have been oral antihistamines, topical emollients, topical doxepin, and topical corticosteroids. Side effects associated with higher potency topical corticosteroids have limited their use in children and for facial areas. Tacrolimus (Protopic) is an immunosuppressive agent typically used systemically in transplant patients. Used topically, it has been found to be effective in treating moderate to severe atopic dermatitis without causing the atrophy that might occur with prolonged use of topical corticosteroids. Tacrolimus works equally well in children and adults, with more than two thirds of both groups having an improvement of greater than 50 percent. Despite its potency, very little of the medication is systemically absorbed, and absorption decreases as the atopic dermatitis resolves. The main side effects are burning and itching, but these also decrease with improvement of the atopic dermatitis.
ABSTRACT: Leukotriene inhibitors are the first new class of medications for the treatment of persistent asthma that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in more than two decades. They also have been approved for the treatment of allergic rhinitis. Prescriptions of leukotriene inhibitors have outpaced the evidence supporting their use, perhaps because of perceived ease of use compared with other asthma medications. In the treatment of persistent asthma, randomized controlled trials have shown leukotriene inhibitors to be more effective than placebo but less effective than inhaled corticosteroids. The use of leukotriene inhibitors has not consistently shown an inhaled-steroid-sparing effect, a reduction in need for systemic steroid treatment, or a cost savings. For exercise-induced asthma, leukotriene inhibitors are as effective as long-acting beta2-agonist bronchodilators and are superior to placebo; they have not been compared with short-acting bronchodilators. Leukotriene inhibitors are as effective as antihistamines but are less effective than intranasal steroids for the treatment of allergic rhinitis. The use of leukotriene inhibitors in treating atopic dermatitis, aspirin-intolerant asthma, and chronic idiopathic urticaria appears promising but has not been studied thoroughly. Leukotriene inhibitors have minimal side effects and are well tolerated in most populations.
Treatment Options for Atopic Dermatitis - Article
ABSTRACT: Atopic dermatitis is a common inflammatory skin condition that usually affects children. It is a chronic disease, with periods of remission and flare-ups, that adversely affects the quality of life of patients and their families. Aggressive therapy with emollients is an important intervention for patients with atopic dermatitis. Patients should avoid individual disease triggers and allergens. Topical corticosteroids are the mainstay of treatment for flare-ups and are the standard to which other treatments are compared. Topical calcineurin inhibitors should not be used in patients younger than two years or in those who are immunosuppressed, and should be secondline therapies in other patients. Rarely, systemic agents (e.g., cyclosporine, interferon gamma-1b, oral corticosteroids) may be considered in adults.
Leukotriene Receptor Antagonists for the Treatment of Allergic Skin Disorders - FPIN's Clinical Inquiries
Generalized Pruritus Without Relief - Photo Quiz
Evening Primrose Oil - Article
ABSTRACT: Evening primrose oil (Oenothera biennis) is a commonly used alternative therapy and a rich source of omega-6 essential fatty acids. It is best known for its use in the treatment of systemic diseases marked by chronic inflammation, such as atopic dermatitis and rheumatoid arthritis. It is often used for several women's health conditions, including breast pain (mastalgia), menopausal and premenstrual symptoms, cervical ripening, and labor induction or augmentation. However, there is insufficient evidence to make a reliable assessment of its effectiveness for most clinical indications. The current evidence suggests that oral evening primrose oil does not provide clinically significant improvement in persons with atopic dermatitis, and that it is also likely ineffective for the treatment of cyclical mastalgia and premenstrual syndrome. However, most trials to date have significant methodologic flaws and must be considered preliminary. The use of evening primrose oil during pregnancy is not supported in the literature and should be avoided. Evening primrose oil is generally well tolerated, with reported minor adverse effects, including gastrointestinal upset and headaches. Optimal dosing standards and treatment regimens await clarification in adequately powered clinical trials.
Infant with Vesicular Rash - Photo Quiz
ABSTRACT: Atopic dermatitis is a common, potentially debilitating condition that can compromise quality of life. Its most frequent symptom is pruritus. Attempts to relieve the itch by scratching simply worsen the rash, creating a vicious circle. Treatment should be directed at limiting itching, repairing the skin and decreasing inflammation when necessary. Lubricants, antihistamines and topical corticosteroids are the mainstays of therapy. When required, oral corticosteroids can be used. If pruritus does not respond to treatment, other diagnoses, such as bacterial overgrowth or viral infections, should be considered. Treatment options are available for refractory atopic dermatitis, but these measures should be reserved for use in unique situations and typically require consultation with a dermatologist or an allergist.
ABSTRACT: Patients with suspected food allergies are commonly seen in clinical practice. Although up to 15 percent of parents believe their children have food allergies, these allergies have been confirmed in only 1 to 3 percent of all Americans. Family physicians must be able to separate true food allergies from food intolerance, food dislikes, and other conditions that mimic food allergy. The most common foods that produce allergic symptoms are milk, eggs, seafood, peanuts, and tree nuts. Although skin testing and in vitro serum immunoglobulin E assays may help in the evaluation of suspected food allergies, they should not be performed unless the clinical history suggests a specific food allergen to which testing can be targeted. Furthermore, these tests do not confirm food allergy. Confirmation requires a positive food challenge or a clear history of an allergic reaction to a food and resolution of symptoms after eliminating that food from the diet. More than 70 percent of children will outgrow milk and egg allergies by early adolescence, whereas peanut allergies usually remain throughout life. The most serious allergic response to food allergy is anaphylaxis. It requires emergency care that should be initiated by the patient or family using an epinephrine autoinjector, which should be carried by anyone with a diagnosed food allergy. These and other recommendations presented in this article are derived from the Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States, published by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Atopic Dermatitis: An Overview - Article
ABSTRACT: Atopic dermatitis, also known as atopic eczema, is a chronic pruritic skin condition affecting approximately 17.8 million persons in the United States. It can lead to significant morbidity. A simplified version of the U.K. Working Party’s Diagnostic Criteria can help make the diagnosis. Asking about the presence and frequency of symptoms can allow physicians to grade the severity of the disease and response to treatment. Management consists of relieving symptoms and lengthening time between flare-ups. Regular, liberal use of emollients is recommended. The primary pharmacologic treatment is topical corticosteroids. Twice-daily or more frequent application has not been shown to be more effective than once-daily application. A maintenance regimen of topical corticosteroids may reduce relapse rates in patients who have recurrent moderate to severe atopic dermatitis. Pimecrolimus and tacrolimus are calcineurin inhibitors that are recommended as second-line treatment for persons with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis and who are at risk of atrophy from topical corticosteroids. Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a boxed warning about a possible link between these medications and skin malignancies and lymphoma, studies have not demonstrated a clear link. Topical and oral antibiotics may be used to treat secondary bacterial infections, but are not effective in preventing atopic dermatitis flare-ups. The effectiveness of alternative therapies, such as Chinese herbal preparations, homeopathy, hypnotherapy/biofeedback, and massage therapy, has not been established.