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March 8th, 2010
New Prescription Drug Clears Up Severe Hand Eczema

A new drug has been developed, called alitretinoin, which can help clear up severe hand eczema and relieve cracked, itchy, and irritated hands, research reports.

Up to 10% of the population has hand dermatitis, a condition in which the skin on the hand becomes inflamed, normally due to an allergic reaction to an irritant. The hand first becomes dry and chapped before turning red, scaly and inflamed.

During a recent study, more than half of participants who took alitretinoin noticed that their eczema “completely or almost completely” went away after receiving the drug, says Charles Lynde, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Toronto.

Alitretinoin “does offer new hope for dermatitis we thought was incurable. Patients improve and quite a few go into remission”

Participants in the study consisted of “hard-core patients who weren’t getting better when treated with ointments containing corticosteroids,” which is the standard treatment used to reduce inflammation for patients with severe dermatitis. The success of alitretinoin is especially important due to the fact that “at present, we don’t have very much to offer when corticosteroid [ointments] fail,” says Lynde.

Alitretinoin is similar to the Vitamin A capsule which is approved for severe hand eczema in Europe and Canada, but not in America. To study the effectiveness of the new drug, researchers looked at 1,032 European and Canadian patients who took alitretinoin or a placebo for 12 to 24 weeks.

The participants noticed that their skin condition completely or almost completely resolved itself in 48% of the patients who received high doses of alitretinoin. In comparison, 28% of patients who were given a lower dose and 17% of patients given placebo noticed their skin condition completely or almost completely cleared up.

A second study looked at 249 Europeans and Canadians, all who had suffered from hand eczema for years and who had not responded to normal steroid ointments. Each participant received a high dose of alitretinoin for 24 weeks, and the final results showed that 47% of the patient’s hand rash cleared up.

Finally, researchers studied the patients who had experienced a relapse after their first treatment with alitretinoin (about a third of the patients). They were given alitretinoin for a second time, and 4/5 of the patients had their rash disappear.

While the drug does not work overnight—it typically takes around 4 to 6 weeks—alitretinoin “does offer new hope for dermatitis we thought was incurable. Patients improve and quite a few go into remission,” Lynde says.

For more information about alitretinoin and other prescription drugs to treat eczema, visit http://www.orderonlinedrugs.com


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