Tuesday, 3 Oct, 2023
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How Getting the Right Treatment Helped Danielle Jonas Manage Painful Eczema Symptoms

Danielle Jonas (pictured above) says her eczema symptoms made even simple tasks uncomfortable. Then a doctor prescribed a treatment that changed her life. Image Provided by Ashley Steinberg
  • Danielle Jonas has begun to share her journey with moderate-to-severe eczema for the first time publicly.
  • In addition to physical discomfort, the emotional and mental effects of eczema can be profound.
  • Living with eczema is manageable with proper treatment.

While pregnant with her second child with musician Kevin Jonas of the acclaimed Jonas Brothers, Danielle Jonas started experiencing symptoms of eczema.

“I started feeling things and thought it was just pregnancy…and had the baby and then [the symptoms] never stopped,” she told Healthline.

When Danielle’s itchiness, redness, and discomfort didn’t go away, she decided to seek out help from her doctor, who diagnosed her with moderate-to-severe eczema, a chronic skin condition characterized by intense, persistent itching and burning, itchy rashes that can crack, crust, or ooze and cause discoloration.

“I had an underlying condition that brought out my moderate eczema,” said Danielle. “I just felt it all the time…it made me feel not myself at all and so I just stayed home with the kids,” she said.

The emotional effects of eczema can be profound

Kevin witnessed how eczema added stress and anxiety to his wife’s already busy life which was packed with mothering their two daughters, running a jewelry line, writing children’s books, and managing the scrutiny of being in the public eye.

“[Dealing] with moderate eczema and having to feel all those things and not feel yourself. She would stop going to shows with me. We would stop doing events certain ways and I’d just do what I had to do, and this was my teammate,” said Kevin.

The emotional and mental effects of eczema can be profound, said Dr. Michele Green, cosmetic dermatologist at Northwell Lenox Hill Hospital.

“Uncontrollable itchiness can disrupt sleep, leading to moodiness and irritability,” she told Healthline. “Individuals with eczema are more likely to isolate themselves from social interactions and activities to hide their appearance or itching behaviors.”

Many people spend a lot of time coping with persistent and often debilitating symptoms, added Dr. Annabelle Garcia, a dermatologist at Sonterra Dermatology.

“Everyday tasks can be difficult for people with the disease, and sometimes activities that many of us take for granted, like brushing hair, going out with friends, or taking a shower, can be tough,” she told Healthline.

Around the time Danielle began having symptoms, she also began experiencing hair loss. However, she said it is unclear if losing her hair was directly a result of having eczema.

“Every time I took a shower it was clumps [coming out] and…I would get more stressed out seeing that and then the symptom got worse,” she said.

The connection between eczema and hair loss

While eczema does not directly cause hair loss, Green said seborrheic dermatitis, a chronic form of eczema, which often develops on the scalp, can present as dandruff or a rash, leaving the scalp flaky, red, and itchy.

“The excess sebum produced can trigger an overproduction of Malassezia, a yeast that naturally develops on the skin. Although seborrheic dermatitis does not directly cause hair loss, if left untreated, excessively high levels of Malassezia can further inflame the skin, resulting in hair follicles being unable to push new hair through,” she said.

Additionally, excessive itching on the scalp can lead to hair follicle damage and hair strands accidentally being ripped out, she said.

Any kind of inflammation on the scalp can impact the hair follicles, which can result in hair shedding or hair loss, Garcia added.

“If symptoms occur…in the hairline, it’s possible that it can affect your hair as well, especially when paired with stress and other factors,” she said.

How sharing your journey with eczema can help others

To give a voice to the estimated 30% of the U.S. population who live with eczema, Danielle teamed up with Sanofi and Regeneron and its “Show Up AD” campaign.

After her diagnosis, she said the prescription medication Dupixent helped ease her symptoms.

“[I] remember coming to Kevin and being like, ‘Kevin, I finally feel like I can take a shower without any discomfort, I can brush my hair without any discomfort,’” Danielle said. “I like to be part of things that are true to me and this [campaign] is very true to me.”

While it was difficult to watch her endure a long journey to diagnosis and finding an effective treatment, Kevin said he is proud of his wife for speaking out about her experience.

“Hopefully Danielle’s voice will get someone to that moment of ‘Oh, let me talk to my doctor. Let me talk to an eczema specialist,’” Kevin said.

Speaking to a dermatologist who specializes in eczema is crucial

Green said one of the most common misconceptions about eczema is that it results from dry skin and is easy to manage with moisturizing lotions.

“This belief can cause many individuals with eczema to downplay their symptoms, not seek proper treatment during a flare-up, or feel dismissed by those around them,” she said.

Because eczema is a chronic condition caused by an over-active inflammatory response in the body, she added that long-term treatment with a dermatologist is required to manage symptoms effectively. There are a wide variety of treatment options based on the type and severity of eczema that range from lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications and lotions to prescription medications.

Although moisturizing lotions can relieve symptoms of eczema, Green said prescription treatments are often necessary to minimize long-term adverse effects from an eczema flare-up.

“We must change this eczema perspective to support those seeking treatment,” she said.

Empowering people living with eczema to take part in the change by eliminating stigma around the condition is Danielle’s goal. She encourages those living with skin conditions to learn about their disease and talk to their doctor about treatment options.

“You can be embarrassed by it and that really stinks because you can’t control it, you can’t control what’s going on, and to not want to go out because you feel embarrassed about it if you can see it [since] it’s a skin thing, [I want others to know that] everyone goes through things,” she said.