shutterstock_235297405A new rheumatoid arthritis drug may help clear moderate-to-severe eczema, a small new study suggests.

Treatment with the janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor XELJANZ® (tofacitinib citrate) led to dramatic improvement in six patients with moderate-to-severe eczema who had previously failed conventional therapies.

 All six patients reported significant reduction in itch as well as improved sleep. The redness and thickening of the skin diminished also, the study showed.

“I’m hopeful we are entering a whole new era in treatment.” —Brett King, MD

The research findings are published early online in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

“These individuals were not only very happy with the results, they also expressed a tremendous sense of relief at being comfortable in their skin for the first time in many years,” says study author Brett King, MD, an assistant professor of dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn. “I’m hopeful we are entering a whole new era in treatment.”

More study is needed to confirm the treatment’s long-term efficacy and safety for eczema patients.

King and fellow Yale dermatologist Brittany Craiglow, MD, had previously shown that tofacitinib citrate regrows hair in patients with an autoimmune-related form of hair loss called alopecia areata. They also published findings reporting the successful treatment of a patient with vitiligo.