Atopic Dermatitis in Older Adults: A Review of Treatment Options

Drugs Aging. 2020 Mar;37(3):149-160. doi: 10.1007/s40266-020-00750-5.

Abstract

Atopic dermatitis (AD) in older adults (elderly AD) has recently emerged as a newly defined subgroup of AD. When selecting treatment options, clinical characteristics of elderly AD and age-specific factors of older patients must be considered. As in other age groups, regular application of moisturizers in combination with topical corticosteroids and calcineurin inhibitors, adjunctive administration of oral antihistamines/anti-allergic drugs, and avoidance of exacerbating factors comprise basic treatments for elderly AD. For moderate-to-severe cases and/or in those with a decreased ability to use topical treatments, powerful anti-inflammatory treatments may become necessary as additional treatment options. While low-dose oral corticosteroids may be useful for cases of elderly AD, careful attention should be paid to adverse effects. Oral cyclosporine (ciclosporin) is less commonly used due to the increased risk of malignancy and organ toxicity in older patients with AD. Narrow-band ultraviolet B phototherapy may also be useful for older patients, although the necessity of frequent hospital visits for irradiation therapy may become a burden of disease for such patients. As a biologic, dupilumab therapy markedly improves skin lesions and itch in older patients with AD, with a rapid response and non-serious adverse effects. Nevertheless, injection pain, expensive medical care, and regular follow-up every 2 weeks are disadvantages of dupilumab therapy. Therefore, clinicians must prioritize individualized treatment options that will reduce the burden of disease for cases of elderly AD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Aged
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Safety