Mild to moderate eczema sufferers who are looking for a cost-effective way to control and heal this skin condition without a prescription now have a new option to consider. A new study in the March 2009 issue of the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology finds that an over-the-counter moisturiser is just as efficacious as a leading prescription moisturiser – for a fraction of the price and easier availability right on the drug store shelf – in the reduction of dryness, scaling and itching related to mild to moderate eczema.
"It was very interesting to see that an over-the-counter moisturising formulation that has been around for more than 100 years, was equally as efficacious as a more modern prescription moisturising cream for the treatment of mild and moderate eczema," says Zoe Diana Draelos, MD, dermatologist and lead researcher/author of the study. This opens up opportunities to larger populations of sufferers of certain skin issues who have limited access to dermatologists or, even, prescription medications, she adds.
Eczema is one of the most common conditions that results in dermatologic visits. Most of the skin damage associated with eczema is not from the condition itself, but comes as a result of the scratching due to the itchiness and irritation. Additionally, eczema is also a condition that returns if the skin is not cared for properly on a regular basis.
Many common, over-the-counter skin moisturisers are now water-based to make them lighter to apply and easy to absorb by the skin, but this water content within the product doesn’t actually penetrate the skin’s deeper layers and cannot moisturise the skin.
"Water-based moisturisers cannot add water to the skin, and, ironically, can actually serve to dry out the skin further in some people because the continual wetting/evaporation of moisture from the surface of the skin produces skin damage," explains Dr Draelos. "Moisturisers that reduce transepidermal water loss (TEWL) are those that occlude, or trap, moisture in the skin due to their more oily ingredients, such as mineral oil, petrolatum and paraffin." These types of moisturisers are great for the tens of millions of people with dry skin issues, like eczema, she adds.
The objective of this investigator-blinded study was to determine if there would be similarities in the improvement of eczema using either an over-the-counter moisturiser found at stores across the US, and a prescription moisturiser for the treatment of mild and moderate eczema (both topical products were combined with use of a 0.1% triamcinolone cream for moderate eczema and used alone for mild eczema). Fifty-nine/sixty (59/60) subjects who completed the four-week study were randomly assigned based on whether their eczema was mild or moderate, and used each of the test products on either one arm or one leg.
"After assessing the subjects at weeks one, two and four, there was improvement in both groups; however, there were no statistically significant differences between the subjects using the OTC formulation or the prescription moisturiser," adds Dr Draelos. The individual subjects also felt that they performed comparably in terms of the healing of the eczema, when evaluating the redness, peeling, dryness, stinging, itching and overall assessment.
(Source: Albolene Clinical: Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology: March 2009)