New eczema treatment approved for younger patients

We've all had annoying mosquito bites that can drive us crazy, but imagine having to deal with that itchy sensation all the time.

That is what it's like for millions of Americans who deal with eczema.

There are medications to treat it, but until recently, children from six months to age five who weren't responding to those medications, didn't have many other options — until now. 

There is now a new drug available for this age group. 

You would never know by looking at her now, but five-year-old Ariah was often miserable with a continuous rash on her face and body that left her scratching and itching and not able to sleep.


Ariah is one of thousands of kids who was constantly dealing with a common, but debilitating, skin condition known as atopic dermatitis, or eczema.

"She had a lot of patches on her face. Her hands were very affected. She had lots of like sorts of layers of scarring and patches of scabs on her neck, behind the neck, behind her in front and behind her knees and then on her ankles," said Ariah's mom, Sonia Dahliwa.

After trying every possible ointment and remedy available, Dahliwa was out of options — until she found Dr. Amy Paller.

Dr. Paller is a professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University. 

Ariah became part of a clinical trial for a drug that was being tested out for the first time on the youngest of eczema patients.

The new medicine is called Dupixent.

You've probably heard the commercials for Dupixent. It's been available for adults since 2017, but was only recently approved for those under five years old.

For children whose eczema is not being controlled, it's being called a game changer.

"These kids are just miserable. They're itching all the time," said Dr, Paller. "It affects mood, it affects your ability to be awake and function well in school. It also affects your relationships because this is a highly visible skin problem, so everyone can see it right in front of them."

Eczema is a skin problem that affects up to 20 percent of children in the U.S. 

It causes red, dry, bumpy and itchy patches, and can develop within the first six months of life.

Current medications can make a difference, but for those who don't benefit, Dupixent is filling a gap.

"Sixteen percent have moderately severe disease so that one-third of children who just don't respond adequately to the topical agents, we've always had to move up to the next levels and that level for the most part was going to immunosuppressive medicines. We don't like to use oral steroids because they have so many side effects," said Dr. Paller.

The drug is administered by shot once a month. 

In children with moderate to severe eczema, they were often getting multiple injections per month and continuing to come in regularly for laboratory visits.

Looking at Ariah now, you can barely see any signs of her eczema. 

Her family hasn't only noticed a physical difference, but also says her mood has changed. Even her big sister admits she is more fun to play with.

"It was like a different child that I felt like we lost her along the way if that makes sense. And then she came back to us. You know, we were like this is the real Ariah," said Dahliwa.

Dr. Paller says one of the other huge benefits of Dupixent is that it has an incredible safety profile.  

She says it's revolutionized how doctors treat children and encourages parents who have run out of options to talk to their dermatologist or pediatrician.