People with eczema know how hard it can be to manage the unbearably itchy condition: Faithfully applying steroid creams and avoiding any and all irritants are just some of the lengths they have to go to.
But a new finding in mice from researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital suggests there might be another treatment option in the future.
When a person has eczema, the skin feels itchy because the body’s immune system is sending in T cells to provoke an allergic response. The researchers found that in addition to these T cells, another kind of immune cell — called neutrophils — also promote the itching sensation. These neutrophils release a kind of lipid called leukotriene B4, which then spur more neutrophils, which then spur more leukotriene B4 .. and so on and so forth.
Researchers found that when they blocked leukotriene B4, it also stopped the T cells from coming to provoke the inflammation linked with the allergic response in eczema.
“Our findings suggest that neutrophils play a key role in allergic skin inflammation and that blockade of leukotriene B4 and its receptor might provide a new therapy for eczema,” study researcher Dr. Michiko Oyoshi said in a statement. The new study is published in the journal Immunity.
The exact cause of eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is not known, though dry skin and immune system functioning could play a part, the Mayo Clinic explained.