Starting a New Treatment For Eczema: Rinvoq

Making the decision to change doctors and treatments for eczema can be quite the daunting journey. In my previous article, I dove further into this topic and shared some of the experience of another incredible warrior from the eczema community, Becky Visser.

In this part of the series, we continue with Becky’s story and her decision to start a medication that was fairly recently approved for treating atopic dermatitis, and how her experience has been so far.

How new is Rinvoq?

When Becky started seeing her new dermatologist and completed patch testing to rule out allergies, her doctor and her, as a team, decided on Rinvoq. Rinvoq (upadacitinib) is a Janus Kinase (JAK) inhibitor medication. It has been used for other chronic health conditions, a main one being rheumatoid arthritis for many years. In January 2022, it was also approved for atopic dermatitis, which I consider fairly recently. Becky is the first person I personally know who decided to give it a try for her eczema. So, I was extra excited to hear her story and get to share it!

What did Becky's step therapy look like?

But back to Becky. In order to start Rinvoq, she first had to do step therapy in order to qualify for the medication. For Rinvoq, this meant she had to go on methotrexate, an oral immunosuppressant medication for 3 months.

After 6 weeks on the medication, she had to get blood work done to prove she was still taking it for the step therapy. Then, after being on methotrexate for 8 weeks and seeing no progress on it, she had a follow up with her doctor. However, even after the methotrexate, she still had a few things to complete before she could take her first dose of Rinvoq. First, she had to get blood work done to make sure everything was okay. Second, she had to get the shingles vaccine. She also had to be cognitive of the fact that she would not be able to get any more live vaccines in general while on the medication.

Did Rinvoq work for Becky's eczema?

Two weeks after receiving the second dose of the shingles vaccine, Becky was able to start on Rinvoq. At that point, she had been medicine free for at least two weeks, as she had stopped methotrexate around that time. For Becky, thankfully, the medication kicked in pretty fast, though she does state “from what I gathered, it’s not as common for it to work as fast as it did for me.” She suspects that was due to not being on medication for a couple of weeks, in addition to some other things going on in her life that tend to raise inflammation.

To her surprise, thankfully, within 24 hours of taking her first dose of Rinvoq, Becky stated her itch went down by “about 80%” and she was “completely blown away” (I would be, too!) She was finally able to get some better sleep as well, and this all gave Becky hope to keep going.

Interestingly, Becky did say Rinvoq changed the overall quality of her skin. This meant she had to change the skin products she was using to suit her “new skin,” so to speak. So, there were some adjustments to be made, but overall, so far, they have proven to be well worth it

Would the same be true for others?

While changing treatments and deciding to try Rinvoq worked out well for Becky, it’s important to keep in mind everyone is different, and there is no one size fits all with eczema and other health conditions.

While a medication may work great for one person, it doesn’t mean it will for everyone. Always consult your healthcare professional and listen to your own body. Also, like everything else, it’s important to keep in mind any new journey won’t necessarily be linear, and there will always be obstacles.

What's next?

In part 3 of this series, I will share one of Becky’s “bumps in the road” on the journey with Rinvoq and her health. When Becky unfortunately had to deal with COVID for a second time, she had to make some adjustments once again.

We will see how even in this case, with the medication working incredibly well for her, our healing journey always has its ups and downs. Like every part of life, the pendulum tends to sway from left to right, until it settles somewhere in the middle, and we find the balance.

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