photo credit: Russell James
I’ve had the pleasure of sitting down with Sex and the City’s Kristin Davis to educate parents–like herself–on moderate to severe eczema in children aged 6 and older.
About Kristin Davis
Kristin Davis is best known for the Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning series “Sex and the City,” in which she starred as the ever-hopeful Charlotte York for six seasons. The role earned her individual Best Supporting Actress nominations for both an Emmy and a Golden Globe Award. Davis and her co-stars also won two Screen Actors Guild Awards® for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series.
About Dr. Lawrence Eichenfield
Dr. Lawrence Eichenfield is chief of pediatric and adolescent dermatology at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, as well as vice chair of the Department of Dermatology and a professor of dermatology and pediatrics at UC San Diego School of Medicine. Dr. Eichenfield earned his medical degree from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and is board certified in pediatrics, dermatology, and pediatric dermatology.
Thrive Global Interview Questions for Kristin Davis:
Thank you for joining us! Can you tell us how you got to where you are today? What drives you?
Gosh, I’m not really sure how I got where I am today. I think that I was very lucky to find that I truly loved acting at a young age. I was myopically focused on acting for pretty much my entire life. So, I really just followed what I loved, never expecting to be a huge success. Just hoping to be able to work as an actress at all….. So, it really still surprises me when I think about how long I have been able to do what I love, in a very competitive business. I think that nothing can replace a good work ethic in any field that you are in.
What is something you believe in, but many others may not?
I think that I am primarily an individualist, meaning that I never really adopted the status quo. There are some draw backs to this at times, but it is the truth of who I am. And in the end, what else matters?
What is something that you are working on that you are excited about?
I am very excited to have just extended my commitment to working with the U.N. Refugee Agency. Even though we can’t travel right now I am very much looking forward to getting out into the world again and traveling to visit refugee camps with UNHCR, I am always so inspired and moved by the strength and resilience of people who must deal with horrific circumstances and find a way to survive and thrive.
What is your blueprint to success?
Well, the work ethic is one important part of success. My parents came from humble beginnings and hard work was just a part of their lives, I try to instill that into my children. Also, I think that it is important to tune into to yourself and take the time to decide what you want to do with your life on a deep level. Sometimes I think there is a pressure to say yes to everything, even if it is not something that you want to do. So giving yourself permission to tune in and then answer honestly is so important to your actual happiness.
When did you first realize that your child had severe eczema? Were you aware of the symptoms of a topic dermatitis prior to a doctor’s official diagnosis, or did you assume your child was having an allergic reaction to something?
Before my child’s diagnosis, I didn’t really know anything about atopic dermatitis. At first, I thought it was just different rashes. That changed when my child’s eczema symptoms worsened while we were away, and I was working in New York. It was one of those very hot New York summers and my child’s skin was cracking and oozing and covered in a rash. At the time, I didn’t understand what had changed or how to help my child and it was incredibly frustrating as a mom.
I would text my pediatrician and he would suggest different methods to help. Then we went to specialists and tried many different creams and lotions. They would help for periods of time, but nothing worked to control the disease long-term. Unfortunately, when we were going through this, there were not many treatment options available for children. That’s why I was excited to learn that approved treatments like Dupixent are available, which treats the root of the problem. My child’s disease is mostly controlled now, but I know we have more options in our back pocket if that changes.
Can you share a little more about your experience with eczema?What do most people not know about the disease that you wish they would know? What advice do you have for other parents facing the same struggle?
My child was diagnosed with severe atopic dermatitis at a very young age and as a parent it was difficult in the beginning because I didn’t really understand what was going on with my child’s skin. The thing about atopic dermatitis is, since it’s a chronic condition, it’s always there and doesn’t just go away on its own. Many people do not realize how serious a skin disease it can be. When some first hear the words atopic dermatitis, or eczema, it’s dismissed as just a simple rash, when, it can be much more debilitating than that.
I struggled for almost a year prior to my child’s diagnosis to communicate my concerns with our doctors. Part of the doubt came from other moms on the playground. They would say things like, “it’s just dry skin” or “it will go away” or “you can just scrub it off”. But as a parent, you know if it’s something more. So, my advice to other parents is, listen to your instincts, feel empowered when speaking with your doctor, and know that there are treatments available that can help.
That’s why I’m sharing my story and partnering with Sanofi and Regeneron to raise awareness about the impact of this disease on children and their families and treatment options like Dupixent. I want to help other parents who are experiencing similar struggles and let them know they aren’t alone and there are solutions out there that we didn’t have before.
What else do you want our readers to know?
Most importantly, I want other caregivers to know they are not alone. As parents, it’s important that we be vocal advocates for our child’s health. Do your research so you feel prepared at your next doctor’s appointment to ask the right questions that will help determine the most appropriate treatment for your child.
Thrive Global Interview Questions for Dr. Eichenfield:
What is atopic dermatitis? Where does it stem from, and what are the most common symptoms?
Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema, and is a skin disease that causes the skin to be irritated and inflamed easily. It most commonly starts in early childhood, with a tendency to have dry skin, and itchy, red and scaly rashes. The causes of atopic dermatitis are complex, and it is influenced by genetics and the environment. There is a tendency towards skin dryness and for the skin’s immune system to be “hyper-excitable” to a variety of triggers.
The severity of eczema varies and people can experience it differently. Some cases are very mild, with more localized parts of the skin involved, but it can also be moderate-to-severe and can cover most of the body. Moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis often presents itself as rashes with intense, persistent itch, thickened skin lesions and skin dryness. It can also cause the skin to crack and ooze.
What are the doctor-recommended treatments for children with eczema?
Treatments for eczema have typically ranged from moisturizers and over-the-counter and prescription topical creams and ointments to prescription topical medications, both steroids and non-steroids. In more severe cases, options for treating systemically (“inside out,” using a medicine by mouth or injection) were limited to very powerful oral steroids or other unapproved medications that suppress the immune system. Fortunately, in the summer of 2020, the first biologic agent for atopic dermatitis, Dupixent (dupilumab) was approved to treat children ages 6-11 and offered a much-needed alternative treatment option for moderate to severe patients who otherwise could not have their atopic dermatitis be adequately controlled.
In general, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. It’s important to work with your doctor (and commonly a pediatric dermatologist or allergist) to find the best treatment plan for your child since as I mentioned earlier, people can experience the disease differently.
For many eczema patients, good skin care regimens to minimize dry skin, keep the skin moist and avoiding particular triggers that might “set off” the eczema or itch are a major part of care. Topical prescription medications can help to manage rashes for many individuals’ rashes. with However, if the disease is moderate-to-severe, and isn’t well controlled by just those measures, Dupixent should be considered.
Can you tell us a little more about Dupixent? What makes it stand out?
As a pediatric dermatologist who has seen the significant impact of moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis on children, I am thrilled to have Dupixent available for children ages 6 and older who are unable to control their disease with topical therapies or when those therapies are not advisable.
Dupixent works differently by targeting the underlying inflammation of atopic dermatitis and can be an incredible option for affected children and their families. It is a “biologic therapy,” essentially a synthetic antibody that targets very specific parts of the immune response.
Dupixent is the only biologic approved for moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis. That’s really a shift and different from what we’ve had before.
That being said, there are side effects with Dupixent as with any medicine, and if children are allergic to Dupixent or its ingredients, they shouldn’t use it. Again, parents should talk to their doctor about what will work best for their child.
What else would you like readers to know?
If their child’s disease is not well controlled, meaning they have continuous or very frequent rashes or are getting infections, then they should seek expert advice from their medical professional who can work with them to help minimize the impact of the disease. It’s important to talk with an eczema specialist about what treatment options might work for your child, as well as potential side effects and alternatives to Dupixent. You can also learn more by visiting Dupixent.com.