January 2020 - Zel Skin & Laser Specialists

The Truth Behind Biologics and Skin Treatments

If you’ve been researching the latest medical news for skin treatments, you might have heard a new term: biologics. These drugs are products from or containing parts from a living organism. Typically, this means the drug will have recombinant proteins, tissues, genes, allergens, cells, blood, blood components, or any combination of these parts. Biologics for skin treatments are provided via injection or intravenous infusion.

While this may sound like New Age medicine to some patients, remember that most vaccines come from living organisms. Common medications, like Lantus (insulin glargine), Humira (adalimumab), and Herceptin (trastuzumab) contain biological components. Even Botox, a common cosmetic procedure, is a biologic from a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum.

In medical dermatology, biologic drugs are most often used to treat psoriasis – and they do so very effectively. This may come as a relief to those with the condition, which manifests as red, uncomfortable, scaly patches on the skin. Biologics also sometimes treat eczema, another skin condition related to the immune system. If you have either condition and are running out of treatment options, biologic drug treatment may be the answer.


Biologics Treatment for Psoriasis

Like most immune-related conditions, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for psoriasis. The goal of psoriasis treatment typically includes symptom management. However, finding the medication that works with your body can take a lot of trial-and-error. Topical corticosteroids are most frequently prescribed for psoriasis treatment, but some patients find that topical retinoids, salicylic acid, and certain moisturizers help. If none of these have worked for you, a biologic drug may be the next step.

Biologics block reactions in the body that cause psoriasis and its symptoms, most of which concern the immune system. The American Academy of Dermatology suggests taking a biologic agent if the psoriasis is moderate-to severe and hasn’t improved with traditional treatments. Biologics are also recommended for patients whose psoriasis is very bothersome, who prefer to take fewer doses, and who experience side effects with traditional psoriasis therapy.

Biologics are very safe for most patients, but there are a few risks and limitations. Active infections, compromised immune systems, recent live vaccination, and pregnancies will prevent patients from receiving this treatment. There are currently 11 biologics on the market that treat psoriasis. Patients will need to work with their insurance companies to figure out which biologics their plans covers. These treatments are very effective at relieving psoriasis symptoms. However, they can cost tens of thousands of dollars each year without insurance coverage. At Zel Skin, our dermatologists will help you decide which treatment will work best for your situation.


Biologics Treatment for Eczema

Like psoriasis, eczema is an immune-related condition characterized by patches of itchy, red skin. As a result, biologics can be an effective symptom mitigator for eczema. The targeted therapy can react to a very specific point of the body’s immune system response, finding and blocking the proteins that may trigger the overactive inflammatory response that occurs in eczema patients.

Researchers are studying biologic drugs that target individual spots along the immune pathway. When it comes to eczema, though, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Dupixent (dupilumab) for adults with moderate to severe cases of atopic dermatitis. More medications are likely on the way, but eczema research is still in an early stage.


Biologics and Skin Cancer

If you’ve heard of biologics in medical dermatology, you might have read that these drugs increase an individual’s likelihood of developing cancer. This is mostly myth. Several years ago, early research found that certain drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis increased an individual’s likelihood of developing cancer. Several recent studies show that this is not the case. Rheumatoid arthritis itself increases an individual’s chance of developing cancer. When scientists looked into whether the drugs themselves played a role in this increased risk, they found that the chronic inflammation, not the medication, was likely to blame.

Some recent studies have shown that biologics may slightly increase an individual’s chance of developing nonmelanoma skin cancer, but the odds of developing other skin cancers do not change. As always, talk to one of our dermatologists about the risks associated with any treatment.


Contact Zel Skin and Laser Treatments to learn more about the best available skin treatments for these and other dermatological conditions.

Do Your Skin a Favor with Home Heating Upgrades

People in Minnesota know how bitterly cold and bitterly dry the air gets during the winter. It’s simple physics. Colder air is unable to hold as much moisture as warm air. This dry air can really do a number on our skin, regardless of type. Skin care is indispensable.

People who already struggle with dry skin can see chapped lips, cracked skin, and even nosebleeds. Eczema outbreaks are common. Conversely, people who struggle with oily skin can see their sebaceous glands become turbo charged by the dry air and create an outbreak of winter acne. Even people with normal, healthy-looking skin can struggle to stay ahead of the game with their skin care routine. As local CBS news affiliate WCCO says, “It’s that time of year when our best friend may as well be a full tub of moisturizing cream.”

We’re not going to disagree. Skin care products are important year-round, but a daily moisturizer is often essential during the winter.


Home Humidifiers can Help

Pumping some extra humidity into the home is no replacement for skin moisturizers, but it can provide that little extra benefit which lets skin care products really do their thing. Your skin may never be as comfortable as it is during the summer, but with a modest investment in multiple single-room humidifiers or whole-house humidifier systems, you can get through the season relatively unscathed.

Especially if you don’t have modern replacement windows, trouble with condensation in the home isn’t uncommon when using humidifiers. This story in the Star Tribune demonstrates the problem with getting the humidity level just right. Really high humidity can even allow mold and other microbes to infiltrate your home. One of the things you can do to minimize this risk is to use a vaporizer that produces steam to humidifier your home.

From the State of Minnesota Guidelines for Managing Indoor Air Quality, “When humidification is needed, it must be added in a manner that prevents the growth of microbiologicals within the ductwork and air handlers….Steam humidifiers should utilize clean steam, rather than boiler water, so that occupants are not exposed to chemicals.”


Safe, Comfortable, Healthy Humidity Levels

During the summer, an ideal relative humidity level might be as high 40-50%. In the coldest part of winter, this type of humidity level would cause serious problems. Again, colder air will naturally have lower humidity levels. This is unlikely with single-room humidifiers or properly calibrated whole-house humidifiers. So, what is the best humidity level for your home? Well, when the temperature reaches single digits, the indoor humidity level shouldn’t exceed 30 percent. When the temperature plunges lower than 10-below zero, the indoor humidity level should be as low as 20 percent. View this chart from Green Building Advisor for more complete information.

If you are worried about going too far humidifying your home, this resource guide from the University of Minnesota Extension explains the risks and signs associated with having too much moisture in your home.


Good for the Skin, Good for the Environment

If you’re willing to go for a bigger home improvement project, a new home heating system can be better for your skin and the environment. Gas furnaces produce more heat than electric ones, but along with forced-air ductwork, this is a recipe for super-dry air. A radiant heating system uses heating elements in the floor or along the baseboard and are generally more energy-efficient and comfortable at the same time.


Get Skin Care Advice Year-Round from Zel Skin and Laser Specialists

There’s no bad season to start taking your skin care seriously. We can provide personalized advice for your skin type, dermatological conditions, and skin care goals. We’ll help you figure out how to get through the winter and how to best take care of your skin year-round. Whether it’s help with an annoying skin condition, cosmetic skin treatments, or an early skin cancer screening, don’t wait any longer to schedule an appointment with our Minneapolis, Edina, or Plymouth skin care clinic location.



2 Carlson Parkway N., Suite 100
Plymouth, MN 55447

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