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Eczema Innovators: An Interview With the Creator of Barrier Light

Joshua Han is founder and inventor of a device called Barrier Light. Inspired by his daughter who suffered from severe atopic dermatitis, he created Barrier Light to measure and track data about an individual’s skin to help them determine the best ways to improve their skin. We asked the founder, Joshua Han, a couple questions about his experiences with atopic dermatitis. How old was your daughter diagnosed with atopic dermatitis?

Joshua Han: My daughter started to have serious rashes on her face at around 2 months old and she suffered from a serious milk allergy when changing from breastfeeding to milk. She wasn’t able to drink milk for the first few weeks. Instead, she had to drink a special milk, which was expensive, but we had no other choice. Describe your experience parenting a child with atopic dermatitis.

Joshua Han: My daughter’s atopic dermatitis began when she was an infant, and was caused by a food allergy. We met many doctors for my daughter’s AD. She had rashes in all creased areas, with serious impetigo at the back of her neck. It lasted around one month, leaving a big discolored scar on her neck.

Her severe need to itch her skin had her scratching every single night. My wife and I couldn’t sleep at night as well. Her scratch was the worst around 2 AM, so my wife would go for a walk with her outside to alleviate her scratch. Since it was such a tough time for us, we felt all we could do was pray and keep searching for answers.
In order to discover the cause of my daughter’s AD, we did various allergy testing, such as a blood test, scratch test, and a skin test. From those tests, I remembered experiencing the skin barrier measurement.

We tried many alternative treatments: aloe therapy, food therapy, oriental medicine, alkali water, and so on, but our concerns for our daughter’s skin were left unanswered. Sometimes, new treatments, like dead sea salt therapy, even worsened her skin’s condition. What was your biggest challenge with treating your daughter’s atopic dermatitis?

Joshua Han: Preventing a scratch was the first challenge when treating my daughter’s AD. Any one scratch could be made into a deep wound, and then inflamed by a second infection. A deep scratch, which can happen in just one second, takes over one month just to heal. This made it very difficult for my wife and I to monitor our daughter’s scratching all throughout the day, and even while she was sleeping.

Feeding and house-keeping was the second challenge to treating her AD. My daughter had various allergies for egg, milk, blue-back fish, dust mites, and animal hair. It was sometimes very hard to find food for her to eat. She needed specially prepared food, and a clean environment, from freshly washed blankets to vacuuming daily.

We had to find a moisturizer to match her skin, as normal lotions and creams caused her itch and irritation. We searched for a no stimulus moisturizer, in Korean, Japanese and American brands. After many tests we finally found a product by Aveeno. Aveeno wasn’t currently commercially imported to Korea at that time, so we had to purchase and import it personally.

My wife and I also were challenged with keeping track of our daughter’s skin while she was at school. We had to keep in close contact with her teachers, and ask for special care for our daughter. She often couldn’t participate in events at school, because of her food allergies and the way it might affect her skin. What is Barrier Light?

Joshua Han: The Barrier Light is skin barrier measurement device. It is well known that an impairment of the skin barrier is a main cause of atopic dermatitis. With the Barrier Light, we measure how healthy or impaired our skin barrier is. The sensors measure trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL), stratum corneum hydration (SCH), and the temperature and humidity in the environment. If we know the condition of our skin barrier, we can care for and manage our skin barrier properly. By measuring the skin barrier each day, patients and/or babies can predict and prevent atopic dermatitis development.

Skin barrier data, measured and collected daily, will be able to be provided to a family doctor or dermatologist through a cloud server. Doctors can monitor and manage AD patients through their skin data, and track the efficacy of their current treatment regimen, or try a better treatment. How did your daughter’s atopic dermatitis inspire you to create Barrier Light?

Joshua Han: Our daughter’s atopic dermatitis has been a long and ongoing journey. I know from personal experience that treating AD is a really difficult job for both the patient and caregiver. In caring for my daughter and her AD, many people helped and supported me along the way. So, I hoped to make a contribution back to the AD community.

Prediction and prevention is best. Many researchers for AD are focusing on prediction and prevention through the use of skin barrier data. Based on this clinical evidence, we developed our device, the Barrier Light, and our MyBarrier app, with dermatologists. My team and I pray that the Barrier Light and MyBarrier app can help AD patients and families, and relieve their pain. Our company is participating in clinical studies with American, Korean and Chinese hospitals, and my hope is that these clinical studies find a better way to treat AD. It would make AD patients free from pain of AD as soon as possible.