Natural treatments for atopic dermatitis: new opportunities for pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies

Published on 09 February 2023 Read 25 min

Atopic dermatitis, also called atopic eczema, is a chronic inflammatory skin disease that leads to the appearance of pruritic and weeping lesions. In France, its management is based on the implementation of hygiene measures to limit exposure to factors that promote the occurrence of inflammatory flare-ups and on the use of dermocosmetic products. These products, purchased in pharmacies, are emollients that promote skin hydration and cleansing products. In addition, a medicinal treatment based on topical corticoids is generally applied to treat the lesions and thus make them regress to limit the associated discomfort. In addition, the development of natural medicine, known as alternative medicine, is booming to ensure the management of the causes and symptoms of atopic dermatitis. This type of medicine is accompanied by recommendations for the consumption of more natural products or food supplements. For topical products, dermocosmetics with a natural composition, as well as the use of natural and unprocessed care products such as vegetable oils or essential oils, are in full expansion. In this article, Alcimed comes back on the development of this natural treatments for atopic dermatitis and the opportunities they offer to pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies.

Alternative medicine applied to atopic dermatitis

The atopic dermatitis has a great emotional and psychological component: emotional shocks or an important stress can generate new inflammatory pushes. This component is not often addressed in the classic management of atopic dermatitis: some patients feel frustrated and have the impression that the management is not optimal. Therefore, they are increasingly turning to reflexology and acupuncture, which can stimulate areas traditionally recognized as having an impact on emotions. In addition, naturopaths, who provide natural treatment of both the causes and symptoms of atopic eczema, are also being called upon by a growing number of patients.

Natural products acting by ingestion on atopic dermatitis

Doctors who use a natural approach in the treatment of atopic dermatitis consider and treat the pathology as an external manifestation of an internal disorder. Therefore, they may recommend the use of probiotics to rebalance the intestinal microbiota, which results in an improvement of the skin condition. Dietary supplements, such as vitamin F (otherwise known as omega 6) in the form of evening primrose oil or herbs such as burdock and blackcurrant, are also recommended and used. When consumed daily, these products are effective in reducing the inflammatory flare-ups associated with atopic dermatitis.

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Skin and natural products

The external management of atopic dermatitis is based on two aspects: moisturizing and cleaning the skin. For moisturizing, vegetable oils (sweet almond, jojoba, etc.) or aloe vera are increasingly used, some of these oils having softening, antimicrobial or healing secondary properties. Goat’s milk soap is increasingly used by patients to cleanse the skin because of its ability to relieve irritated skin and maintain skin balance due to its composition of specific triglycerides such as caprylic acid. In order to reduce the use of corticoids, the occurrence of itching is treated naturally with essential oils which are antimicrobial and healing: the dilution in vegetable oils before application will potentiate their action.

Dermocosmetics and naturalness

Dermocosmetics composed of synthetic products tend to be neglected by a part of the patients.

The market of dermocosmetic products for the treatment of atopic dermatitis is vast because many ranges are available. However, dermocosmetics composed of synthetic products tend to be neglected by a part of the patients. In order to meet consumers’ expectations, it is therefore necessary that the actors of this sector develop products highlighting naturalness. This positioning can be achieved through the use of natural active ingredients, communication on the absence of certain compounds considered harmful in the formulations (preservatives, silicones, parabens, etc.) or the development of new all-natural ranges.

These needs and expectations of patients for more natural products create an opportunity, for pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies, to reinvent themselves and develop their presence. To do so, these players can also get closer to the new health professionals involved in the management of patients with atopic dermatitis to better understand what their expectations are towards this type of products and on what criteria their recommendations to patients are based. Laboratories can also adapt their product ranges by communicating more clearly on the natural aspects of existing ranges, particularly in terms of product composition, and by developing new product ranges that meet this trend. Moreover, it seems necessary to develop an associated advice offer in order to propose a complete approach to the patients and to guide them on the ingredients and natural products the most adapted to their pathology and to their skin.  Alcimed is ready to support you in this direction. Don’t hesitate to contact us! 

About the author, 

Claire, Head of Mission within the Life Sciences team of Alcimed

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