It previously had only been available to adults.
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis as dermatologists call it, is a huge problem, CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported.
More than 30 million people in the U.S. have some form of it, including almost 10 million children.
Adults can be treated with ointments, steroids and UV light, but children need better options.
“When I was young, it wasn’t that bad. You couldn’t tell,” said 13-year-old Ben Sun. He had mild eczema up until third grade, when it suddenly flared massively.
“Red lesions all over my skin,” Sun said. “You want to scratch but that makes it worse… felt like I was burning up.”
This was not your mild childhood eczema most parents are familiar with. This was all over his body: Blistering, itchy lesions that even spread to Ben’s head, causing his hair to fall out.
Mount Sinai dermatologist Dr. Emma Guttman says this kind of eczema is a real medical problem.
“It affects sleep, school,” Guttman said. “And when you scratch, you can cause infections that can even land you in the hospital.”
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a kind of autoimmune disease, where the body produces certain immune molecules that lead to the terrible, itchy rash, which can be disabling – and even disfiguring.
Two years ago, the FDA approved an injectable drug called Dupixent to treat moderate to severe eczema in adults. There were few safe, approved options for children.
Now, the FDA has approved Dupixent for adolescents ages 12-17.
Ben was one of the teens in the clinical trial. He showed Gomez the huge difference the drug has made for his eczema. Dr. Guttman has seen its benefits beyond clearing skin.
“It has changed their life. They’re no longer homeschooled, and they’re getting into good colleges,” Dr. Guttman said.
Ben’s hair has grown back and he no longer feels different than other kids.
“I can lead a normal life and I can sleep at night,” he said.
Clinical trieals to show efficacy – and especially safety – in children younger than Ben are still ongoing. Dr. Guttman, who led the trials that got Dupixent approved for adolescents, is hopeful there will soon be relief for young children with those more severe cases of eczema.