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One hand with money on it and another hand with a topical prescription

That Tiny Tube Costs WHAT?!

I recently had my six-month dermatologist visit (that one where they check you out head-to-toe for all those latent skin cancers) and I took advantage of the visit to mention some itchiness and inflammation to my dermatologist. We’re good friends (or we should be given how much I see this woman) so she was down for some casual conversation about the state of my forearms and shins.

Tackling a dermatitis flare-up

She started by taking a quick peek and then continued with a little scratch and the shine of bright light. She quickly decided that I was having a little dermatitis flare-up due to the change of seasons (this was back in April) and signed me up for some ointment. We continued with my exam and I was on my merry way to the local drugstore. 60 minutes later and $40 lighter, I had a tiny tube of ointment.

Sticker shock for my prescription

Given the size of the tube and the span of skin on to which I was supposed to apply it, I expected this gel to work pretty quickly. I was going to exhaust my supply very quickly – and let’s be honest, $40 isn’t a small amount of money for skin ointment. I spread it over my skin a few times with basically no results and moved on because my symptoms weren’t all that bad and again, it cost me $40.

I have to apply how many times a day?

Fast forward four weeks and I’m back in the dermatologist’s office (I told you… we see a lot of each other). I mentioned the dermatitis to my bestie and when asked how often I’d applied the gel, I got scolded a bit for not applying it for the two full weeks. I’m no wallflower so I spoke right up and told my doctor that I’d received barely enough for two applications, let alone 14 or 28 applications (she’d suggested twice a day for two weeks!) So she called in a new prescription and specified a much bigger tube.

Yet after another trip to the drugstore (I’m tight with my pharmacist as well!). Bad news. The bigger tube is $142. So here I am – I’ve got insurance but no ointment or gel and I’m still inflamed.

Have you been in a similar situation? Share your story with the atopic dermatitis community.


  • Raynor
    12 months ago

    Good day, I am 75 years old and last year my entire back and calves were covered in itchy dermatitis. The Dermatologist guessed it was from medication. Creams and ointments were prescribed and worked just a little bit. It was also very expensive. I then went on to ebay on the internet and discovered Chinese cream that really work. The cost for a tube is as low as $1.50. The formula is herbs. No side effects at all. I will keep this up to the stage where the itching stops (which has) and carry on using the cream for maintenance. It is a slow process and can take months,but I am getting better.

  • Sarah Wallin moderator
    12 months ago

    Hi @raynor, That must have been very frustrating to try those expensive prescription creams and ointments, only for them to work just a bit. Treating dermatitis can certainly involve a lot of trial and error. That’s great that you found a Chinese herbal cream that has helped with itching and fits into your budget! It’s good to hear you are getting better, and we know it can be a process. Would be glad to hear updates of how you are doing. Take care. -Sarah ( Team Member)

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