ATOPIC DERMATITIS AND COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has many patients asking, “Does my condition or my medication put me at greater risk for COVID?” and “Should I still go to the hospital and see my doctor?” Let’s see how the experts are answering these important questions.
Am I at greater risk for COVID-19?
The short answer is no, atopic dermatitis does not make you more likely to get COVID-19.1, 2 Experts say there is no evidence that atopic dermatitis makes patients more susceptible to catching COVID-19. 1, 2 Atopic dermatitis likewise does not increase the risk of developing more severe COVID-19 disease in case of infection. 1, 2
However, this does not mean that the pandemic does not present unique challenges to patients with atopic dermatitis. Increased hand washing, frequent use of disinfectants, the prolonged wearing of masks and gloves, all of these can lead to flare-ups in the hands and face.3 Higher stress and anxiety levels brought about by the pandemic can trigger flares.3 The current situation also makes it more difficult to schedule consults with your doctor or visits to the emergency room.3
How do I manage my atopic dermatitis during this pandemic?
Patients with atopic dermatitis, like the rest of the population, are advised to follow the recommended health protocols for the country and place where they live.
Atopic dermatitis treatment should be continued.
The pandemic should not prevent patients from getting correctly diagnosed and properly treated.1-3 To decrease the number of trips to the hospital or doctor’s office, patients are encouraged to establish telemedicine or remote consult arrangements.3 It’s also a good idea to get instructions from your doctor about how to differentiate a mild flare that you can treat by yourself at home versus a more severe flare that needs a check-up.3
Moisturization is a key component of managing atopic dermatitis.3 Frequent hand-washing and disinfectants can lead to dryness, so make sure you have enough moisturizer on hand. 3 Buy moisturizers in bulk or through delivery services so you don’t need to take too many trips to the pharmacy.3 In fact, it’s a good idea to get a 3-month supply of your prescription medication from your doctor as well.3
It is also important to take care of your mental health.3 Patients with atopic dermatitis have higher rates of anxiety and depression, and this may be worsened by pandemic-induced stress and social isolation.3 Online support groups, moderate physical exercise and stress-reduction techniques like mediation can be of help, so don’t hesitate to try these out.3
Does my medication affect my immune system?
Some of the drugs used to treat atopic dermatitis affect the normal function of the immune system.1, 3, 4 In certain cases, patients taking these medications may be at increased risk of a viral infection.3, 4 This is a concern, but you should not stop taking your medication just yet.1 Talk to your doctor first.1
In most cases, the benefits you get from the drug outweigh the risks,1 but this decision must be made on a case-to-case basis.1, 3 Instead of stopping your medication, your doctor might recommend that you lower the dosage instead.3 Discuss the pros and cons with your doctor before changing the way you are managing your atopic dermatitis.1, 4
Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Atopic dermatitis patients should get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Experts encourage patients with no allergies or other contraindications to get vaccinated.2, 4 Talk to your doctor about getting cleared for the vaccine and get scheduled for one as soon as you can.2, 4
Skin rashes are a common side effect of vaccination, and if you do develop a rash, contact your doctor to get appropriate treatment.5 A rash or any symptoms that appear immediately after the shot or within 4 hours after should get medical attention immediately, to rule out a serious reaction.5 Rashes and other symptoms that appear after 4 hours or even days later are usually mild reactions and should not make you worry.5 Most of the time these reactions clear up without medication, but keep your doctor informed about how you are doing.5
The COVID-19 pandemic is a challenging time for everyone, but with the right information, we can make the right decisions to keep healthy and atopic dermatitis under control.
- Uppal, S.K., Kearns, D.G., Chat, V.S. & Wu, J.J. (2020). Management of atopic dermatitis during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pract Dermatol, 48-54. https://practicaldermatology.com/articles/2020-july/management-of-atopic-dermatitis-during-the-covid-19-pandemic
- Thyssen, J.P., Vestergaard, C., Barbarot, M.S., et al. (2021). European Task Force on Atopic Dermatitis: position on vaccination of adult patients with atopic dermatitis against COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) being treated with systemic medication and biologics. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol, 35(5), e308-e311. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8014632/
- Shah, M., Sachdeva, M., Alavi, A., et al. (2020). Optimizing care for atopic dermatitis patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. J Am Acad Dermatol, 83(2), e165-e167. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7217788/
- International League of Dermatological Sciences. (updated 2020) ”Guidance on the use of systemic therapy for patients with psoriasis/atopic dermatitis during the Covid-19 (Sars-Cov-2, Coronavirus) Pandemic” https://ilds.org/covid-19/guidance-psoriasis-atopic-dermatitis/
- McMahon, D.E., Amerson, E., Rosenback, M., et al. (2021). Cutaneous reactions reported after Moderna and Pfizer vaccination: a registry-based study of 414 cases. J Am Acad Dermatol, S0190-9622(21)00658-7. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2021.03.092. Online ahead of print. https://www.jaad.org/article/S0190-9622(21)00658-7/fulltext
Health information contained herein is provided for general educational purposes only. Your healthcare professional is the single best source of information regarding your health. Please consult your healthcare professional if you have any questions about your health or treatment.