Scotland’s ‘invisible man’ welcomes new drug to fight eczema

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An eczema sufferer who was labelled the “invisible-man” by hospital staff, after being regularly covered in bandages has welcomed the Scottish Medicines Consortium decision to approve the first drug to treat severe atopic dermatitis.

Geoff Mitchell has struggled with the condition for years and has tried almost every treatment available but to no avail.

1.5 million adults in the UK are affected by atopic dermatitis ' the most common type of eczema. Picture: NIAID/Flickr

1.5 million adults in the UK are affected by atopic dermatitis ' the most common type of eczema. Picture: NIAID/Flickr

The 60-year-old accountant is now hoping the decision to make the drug dupilumab available for routine use in NHS Scotland will help to ease his suffering.

Mr Mitchell, from Edinburgh, is one of the 1.5 million adults in the UK affected by atopic dermatitis – the most common type of eczema.

He said that he is in the “top tranche” of people earmarked to receive the drug which has proved effective.

He said: “Hopefully, it will be more effective than previous treatments I have had – things like application of external cream and drug treatments that I’ve taken orally, one of which didn’t react particularly well with me. The other one isn’t too bad but isn’t that great.

I’m hopeful it [dupilumab] will ease my pain and help other people with eczema. I believe it is hereditary. One of my consultants said ‘if you’ve got the dry skin gene – you’ve got the dry skin gene’.

“It’s something I’ve had most of my life, it’s been worse in the last 15 years – it’s really become a much bigger impact on my day-to-day life.”

Mr Mitchell told how he has to wear protective whole body suits, which he gets fitted out for at hospital and led to the “invisible man” comparison as he appeared to be swathed in bandages from head to toe.

He is allergic to perfume and any shampoo or soap products that contain it – this means his wife can’t have flowers around the house.

The father-of-one added: “When it’s not too bad I’m able to go out and run but there’s a lot of times when I can’t.

“They covered me in tubigrip to protect my clothes – that covered my arms, legs and body and was tied at the shoulders. I looked liked the invisible man.

“That’s what they called me at the time – I’ve got better bandages now that I’ve got to wear most of the time.

“It’s usually worse in the mornings – during the day you can stick on some cream to keep it under control.

“I think stress, possibly exacerbated it but there’s no hard or fast link.”

Moderate to severe atopic dermatitis is characterised by rashes – often covering much of the body and symptoms can include intense, persistent itching and skin dryness, cracking, redness, crusting and oozing.

Itch is one of the most burdensome symptoms for patients and can be debilitating.

In addition, sufferers experience impaired quality of life, including disrupted sleep as well as symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Andrew Proctor, chief executiveof the patient charity National Eczema Society, said: “This new treatment is a highly significant step forward for people living with more severe atopic eczema in Scotland.

“Atopic eczema can be a cruel, never-ending condition, with constant itching and inflamed painful skin, and the many negative physical and mental health effects have a profound impact on people’s day-to-day life.

“Dupilumab offers people with a more severe form of atopic eczema a much needed new treatment option in a disease area where therapies have been limited.”

National Eczema Awareness Week runs from 15th September until 23rd September.