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What Are Immunosuppressants And Why Are They Used In Eczema ?

Immunosuppressants are powerful medicines that dampen down the activity of the body’s immune system. They can be helpful for controlling severe eczema because they suppress the overactivity of the immune system that is causing the inflammation in the skin. They are only used to treat very severe eczema that has not responded to treatment with more conventional treatments, such as topical steroids. They are only prescribed by hospital specialists.

Are They Suitable For Everyone ?

Obviously these powerful medicines are not necessary for everyone who has eczema, and are only used for eczema that is severe and uncontrollable by other means. Each medicine has its own list of contraindications (conditions in which the drug should not be used) and your specialist will check that it is safe for you to use before prescribing it. The patient information leaflet provided with each medicine will tell you when it should not be used, and will also give other information relevant to that particular medicine.

How Will My Treatment Be Monitored ?

If you are prescribed ciclosporin your doctor will want you to have regular check-ups, not only to monitor the effect of the medicine on your eczema, but also to monitor for potential side effects. Your blood pressure will be monitored, and you will also need blood tests to monitor your blood count, kidney function, and liver function. If you are prescribed azathioprine or mycophenolate you will also need to have regular check-ups to monitor the effect on your eczema. The check-ups should also include blood tests to monitor the levels of blood cells in your blood since these medicines can cause your bone marrow to stop producing blood cells normally. For this reason you should consult your doctor immediately if you experience any infections, fever, or unexplained bruising or bleeding while taking them.

What Are The Possible Side Effects ?

This depends on the particular immunosuppressant prescribed, but a full list of possible side effects will feature in the patient information leaflet provided with the medicine. Remember that all medicines have side effects, but this does not necessarily mean that you will experience any of them.

The most common side effects of ciclosporin are kidney problems, high blood pressure, tremor and increased hair growth.

The most common side effects of mycophenolate are gastrointestinal upset, reduced numbers of white or red blood cells in the blood and increased infections.

The most common side effects of azathioprine are increased infections, decreased production of blood cells by the bone marrow and gastrointestinal upset.

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