You may have noticed your child’s eczema, or atopic dermatitis, symptoms before — their skin is dry, itchy, red, and swollen. Scratching only seems to make symptoms worse and your kiddo more miserable. You’ve tried topical creams, ointments, and lotions, but for some reason the symptoms keep coming and going, leaving you stumped.
It probably hasn’t even crossed your mind that allergies may be to blame. If there is an underlying allergy to your child’s eczema, personalized allergy drop immunotherapy may go a long way to address what’s known as the allergic march.
How are allergies and eczema related?
Atopic dermatitis, commonly referred to as eczema, is often impacted by allergies. It typically affects infants and young children, often even developing before age one. Symptoms vary, but here are a few of the most common:
- Itchy skin
- Dry, thickened, cracked, inflamed, and/or scaly skin
- Discolored patches of skin
- Raw skin from scratching
Soaps, cleaners, fabrics, smoke, dust mites, mold, pollen, animal dander, and problem foods are examples of allergens and irritants that can trigger eczema symptoms. These things may cause immediate eczema symptoms or delayed symptoms not experienced until a few days after exposure.
But, this skin irritation may only be the beginning. Research has linked atopic dermatitis to the first stage of the allergic march.
What is the Allergic March?
Many chronic conditions may accompany, progress, and develop with allergies and atopic dermatitis over time — this is what’s referred to as the allergic march, or atopic march.
The atopic march predicts that people with strong allergies triggering their atopic dermatitis often develop one, some, or maybe even all of the following conditions within their lifetime:
- Additional allergies, including food allergy
- Allergic rhinitis
- Chronic sinusitis
- Nasal polyps
- Wheezing episodes with viral infections
- Recurrent ear infections
One recent review on atopic dermatitis and food allergy found that children with atopic dermatitis are up to six times more likely to develop food allergies; they’re also more likely to develop allergic rhinitis and asthma later in childhood. As many as 60% of children with severe atopic dermatitis develop asthma eventually.1 It’s hypothesized that exposing skin inflamed from eczema to allergens can contribute to the atopic march.
Slowing or Stopping the Allergic March with Immunotherapy
First things first: Any allergic condition should be identified and effectively treated early to help slow or stop the allergic march from progressing. Allergy drop immunotherapy can be an effective option to treat the cause of allergies, as well as a way to slow or halt allergy-related conditions.
Doctors and researchers have been fascinated with the allergic march, particularly its cause and progression in patients. The Preventive Allergy Treatment (PAT) study was the first prospective, long-term follow-up study to investigate specific immunotherapy (SIT) as a treatment option to slow the allergic march. In this study, patients treated with allergy shots had a significantly lower risk of developing asthma and fewer symptoms compared to a control group.
The physicians at Allergy Associates of La Crosse (AAOL) have been committed to understanding the allergic march and developing allergy drop immunotherapy protocols to help halt it. Dr. Mary Morris, Allergy Associates of La Crosse Emeritus and Allergychoices’ co-founder, and her colleagues saw preliminary results similar to that of the PAT study in their own clinical experience and research. Data analysis from a retrospective chart review of pediatric patients treated at AAOL suggests that allergy drop immunotherapy has a significant impact on the development of asthma in pediatric patients with allergic conditions.
Using industry data on the treatment group’s allergic markers and allergy-related conditions, Dr. Mary and her team predicted that as many as 80% of patients would’ve been diagnosed with asthma had their conditions gone untreated. But, of the 241 patients surveyed after varying lengths of sublingual immunotherapy treatment using the La Crosse Method™ Protocol at AAOL, only 10 (4.1%) post-treatment asthma cases were reported, which was significantly lower than expected and lower than industry data.
“The allergic march shifts from one organ to another. It’s important to catch it early so we can shorten the course of the disease,” said Dr. Mary. “It often starts in infancy, before allergy shots can even be considered, which misses the primary window for slowing or halting the allergic march. This is when allergy drop immunotherapy can really help treat patients before the atopic march begins its progression into other organ systems or from one allergen to another.”
While understanding allergies may be a complicated process, finding the right treatment option to halt the allergic march doesn’t need to be. With tools like the La Crosse Method Protocol available to safely treat even very young children, reaching for topical creams and medications that only treat the symptoms can become less necessary. Treating the cause of the allergic march with personalized allergy drops is proving to be a critical tool for stopping the allergic march in its tracks.
Find a Provider Near You Trained In Custom Allergy Drop Immunotherapy
Allergychoices has shared the La Crosse Method Protocol with more than 2,000 providers across the country, helping to bring personalized allergy drop immunotherapy treatment closer to you. Find a provider near you to get started addressing the allergic march.
- Hill, David A, and Jonathan M Spergel. “The atopic march: Critical evidence and clinical relevance.” Annals of allergy, asthma & immunology: official publication of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology 120,2 (2018): 131-137. doi:10.1016/j.anai.2017.10.037