A mind-blowing fact about vaccines is that the first one was developed in 1796, before viruses themselves were even discovered. A research team under British scientist Edward Jenner discovered through trial-and-error that giving a person cowpox would protect them against smallpox and the first recorded vaccine was born!
While Jenner’s may have been the first recorded injectable vaccine, the Chinese invented the method of inoculation 1,000 years prior. They would practice what’s called variolation that introduced uninfected people with the smallpox virus through scratches in the skin or up the nostrils. The process started after doctors realized people who had already survived a smallpox infection were immune for the rest of their lives.
Is There a Vaccine for Eczema?
Vaccines, by definition, is a product that introduces a disease into the immune system in a controlled way to help the body prep against future threats. Since eczema is an autoimmune disorder in which the process breaks down and attacks itself, a vaccine isn’t a viable treatment or prevention of eczema.
However, there is a newly developed shot on the market to treat eczema called Dupixent (dupilumab). It’s aimed at grownups with moderate-to-severe eczema. The FDA approved the injection in 2017. It has an antibody that attaches itself to the protein receptor, alpha subunit, that is responsible for the inflammatory response. The pairing inhibits the inflammation that occurs with eczema. In a clinical study, the drug cleared up the skin and significantly reduced itching in participants after 16 weeks.
What You Should Know About Eczema and Vaccines
Autoimmune disorders are predispositions rooted in genetics or acquired by sheer luck of the draw. In the case of eczema, it is a manifestation of autoimmune deficiency on the epidermis.
Allergies and autoimmune disorders are tightly connected. in both cases, it is a malfunction of the immune system to overreact to non-threatening intruders. With eczema, the rash could break out for seemingly no reason or it could be triggered by an allergic reaction. Diagnosis contains a huge overlap for people who both have an autoimmune disorder (like eczema, Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, IBS, etc.) and suffer from allergies. As many as 1 in 5 Americans are living with a form of autoimmune dysfunction today.
The truth about allergies is that the body could badly react to almost anything, including the ingredients in vaccines. There have been reports of eczema and vaccines badly reacting.
Many injections are housed in a formula made from eggs, which is a top allergy among children. The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), influenza, and yellow fever vaccine all contain egg proteins that could cause complications in children with egg allergies.
This poses problems when kids reach vaccination age and aren’t able to protect themselves from life-threatening viruses because the shot itself can make them sick. There has to be a cost-benefit analysis based on how severe a child’s egg allergy is. A temporary rash may be worth the long-term protection of a vaccine. Either way, knowing vaccines might spark an eczema flare-up is important in overall parenting.
Can Vaccines Cause Eczema?
Eczema, also referred to as atopic dermatitis, stems from a mistimed immune system attack. The particles of virus cannot cause eczema directly, as the nature of the condition is totally different.
Alternatively, immunizations are designed to strengthen the immune system in young humans. A prepared immune system could prevent eczema outbreaks, especially if they tend to happen from environmental triggers. Either way, eczema is preferable to having your baby face life-threatening illness unprotected.
Measles Vaccine and Atopic Dermatitis Outbreaks
While vaccines don’t directly cause eczema, the shots could complicate the issue. There have been reports of an uptick in atopic dermatitis following the MMR vaccine. One study followed a group of just under 10,000 children from age 3 to 15 years old. The data showed a measurable increase in eczema outbreaks in MMR vaccinated children.
This could be due to the eggs, as mentioned earlier, or there might be an undiscovered link between the antibodies. Experts recommend skipping MMR for immunocompromised individuals, which could cover eczema sufferers (but not always).
Preventing an Eczema Flare-Up
As unappetizing as it may be, eczema may be something you deal with your entire life, but it can be managed with lifestyle changes and self-care rituals.
Try some of these tips:
- Moisturize with lotion from the fridge. Storing your topical cream of choice in the fridge provides an extra layer of coolness and itch relief.
- Switch to cool or lukewarm water for showers. Hot water is drying to skin and can increase itchiness and flakiness. Adjusting the temperature just slightly could make a huge difference.
- Install a humidifier. If you live in a desert climate or a corner of the world where you have to use heat and AC, put a humidifier in your home. You’ll breathe easier and scratch less.
- Avoid perfumed items. Throw out soap, body wash, cosmetics, lotions, laundry detergent, and anything you put on your skin that has fragrance in it. Industry standards require no explanation on the ingredient list for what “fragrance” means and companies use it as an excuse to plug in cheap chemicals. Better to choose fragrance-free and all-natural products (although beware that a natural product could still produce a reaction, depending on your situation).
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