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Study Finds Oral, Arthritis Drug RINVOQ Effective Against Moderate To Severe Eczema

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- When you hear "eczema," you probably think of an itchy rash your children had as babies, but it affects as many as 16 million adults.

The itch and infections can be disabling. But as CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez reported Monday, a new study found an oral arthritis drug may be the best treatment yet for eczema.

Eczema is a misunderstood and underestimated skin problem. Most people think of it as a rash that most babies will outgrow. But eczema can and does afflict adults.

"Itching was persistent, dry skin," said Kwame Baird, an eczema patient. "So I would have to apply cream every half hour."

Baird's eczema covered large parts of his body, from knees to face. As a teacher who couldn't hide, it even affected his mental health.

"I've never felt depressed before, but I felt it in that moment," Baird said.

There are a number of medications that can help with eczema, but all have significant side effects or have to be injected.

A new study has found that an oral drug called RINVOQ, which is prescribed for arthritis, has remarkable effectiveness on moderate to severe eczema.

Dr. Emma Guttman-Yassky, chairwoman of dermatology at Mount Sinai, is the study's lead author.

"The level of clearance is something that we didn't see with other medications before, and it is an oral medication. It allows flexibility in stopping and restarting. So patients can take it for a while, they can stop it, they can take it again when they flare," Dr. Guttman-Yassky said.

Better yet, RINVOQ works within days. Baird was in the clinical trial and saw remarkable results.

"I was like, 'Oh, I'm not itching anymore,'" he said. "I just feel much more confident. I don't have to hide my skin."

Like any drug, this has some side effects: a risk of some infections and transient acne. But overall, it's well tolerated.

RINVOQ is approved for arthritis, but can be prescribed off-label for eczema. Approval for eczema may come as early as this summer.

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