To Sex and the City fans (ourselves included), Kristin Davis will always be the bright and hopeful Charlotte York we watched evolve from one of Manhattan’s most eligible bachelorettes to Mrs. Harry Goldenblatt on the hit HBO series. Of course, we realize actresses and the fictional characters they portray are rarely one and the same, but if there’s one thing Davis and York have in common, it’s their strong maternal instincts.
Since wrapping SATC, Davis has been busy. The 55-year-old’s resume is peppered with acting gigs and philanthropic efforts in addition to her status as a mother of two. In 2011, Davis adopted her daughter, Gemma Rose through domestic adoption. In 2018, the Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency granted her little girl’s wishes of having a brother by adopting her son, Wilson.
In an interview with PEOPLE, Davis expressed that motherhood was something she had wanted “for a very long time” and that this new chapter in her life was proving to be “more gratifying than I ever had imagined.” But unfortunately, parenthood doesn’t come without its fair share of trials and tribulations: In 2019, Davis sat down with Jada Pinkett Smith and Adrienne Banfield-Norris on an episode of “Red Table Talk” to open up about her experience as a white woman raising two Black children. Now, Davis is opening up about her child’s battle with atopic dermatitis, otherwise known as eczema.
“Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema and is a disease that presents with a mixture of rashes, intense itch, cracking, oozing and crusting of the skin,” Chief of Pediatric and Adolescent Dermatology at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, Dr. Lawrence Eichenfield tells SheKnows. “It can range from very mild, where it’s localized to one area, to a very significant disease that can cover most of the body.”
The inflammatory disease is common among children, Eichenfield says. Davis’s child is among the 10-15 percent of children who will develop eczema in the first few years of life, and the condition can persist into their adolescent years. Anti-inflammatory medications, topical creams, bathing practices, moisturizing problem areas and avoiding particular triggers are all traditional, doctor-recommended treatments prescribed to patients, but if there’s a lot of inflammation, “it can’t be managed by just these measures,” Eichenfield tells SheKnows. Which is why the progressive development of Dupixent, a new therapy for moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis that was recently approved by the FDA, is so significant.
According to Eichenfield, Dupixent is the first systemic therapy, or biologic agent, for moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis. Previously approved for children ages 12 years and older, the FDA recently approved Dupixent for children ages 6 years and older. The new therapy is given by way of injection, and blocks interleukins (inflammations) in the skin in order to reduce symptomatic flare-ups, Eichenfield says.
“Dupixent was first approved in adults, but because of a recognition from those in the field, including the FDA, and that pediatrics is such a great part of atopic dermatitis, they didn’t want Dupixent only approved for adults, so studies were already under way for adolescents and children ages 6-11,” Eichenfield tells SheKnows. “This expanded approval in children ages 6-11 is a big deal for a lot of eczema patients. I’m finding it remarkable in its ability to change the lives of these children and their families.”
In an exclusive with SheKnows, Davis shares what the experience has been like for her child and as a mother of a child battling eczema, why the approval of Dupixent for young children comes as such a relief and the advice she’d give to parents still seeking answers.
SheKnows When did you first realize that your child had severe eczema?
Kristin Davis: We were away working in New York, and it was one of those very hot New York summers, that’s when my child’s eczema really exploded. It had been more of a low grade thing before that, [then] became many types of eczema. I would text my pediatrician and he would say “try this”, “try that”. They were more “green” or holistic solutions that just didn’t work for us. This went on for a while.
SK: Were you aware of the symptoms of atopic dermatitis prior to a doctor’s official diagnosis, or did you assume your child was having an allergic reaction to something?
KD: I didn’t really know anything about eczema or atopic dermatitis. At the time, I thought they were just strange and different shaped rashes. Some were circular and some would be in the arm folds and they were all a bit different. There was also cracking and oozing rashes. At the time, I didn’t know enough to know it was just one thing called eczema. It took a long time to figure out.
SK: What has it been like for your child to live with eczema? How does it affect their day-to-day life?
KD: In the beginning, I tried to really downplay it. When [kids are] very young, you can [try to solve it] in a way to make it magically go away, so they don’t have to intellectually know about it. As they’ve gotten older, that has not been so easy. Now it’s something we communicate about. My child communicates the different symptoms and how they feel. It’s a painful itch, not just like a bug bite, so it’s a lot of communication and preparation in terms of thinking ahead. What do I need to have on me in case of a rash?
[However,] at this point, we’ve gotten used to it and our case is managed right now, but it changes, and you never know what’s going to happen. That’s why it’s amazing to have Dupixent, which can actually go to the source of the problem. My fear as a mom has always been, that as my child gets older, they will have a flare-up that will be visibly obvious and it will be difficult in their adolescent/teen years and they’ll have a lot of stress about it. For me, I now have in my back pocket Dupixent as a potential solution. I don’t want my child, as an adolescent, to have to feel embarrassment about their disease. You already have so many things to feel embarrassed about at that age and I don’t want skin to be another one.
SK: How has your child’s battle with eczema affected you as a mother?
KD: It’s always there. It’s always an underlying element of planning and awareness and conversation in terms of what we are going to eat, or what we are going to put on our skin at night and in the morning. It’s normal things but more intense than it would be if we didn’t have those issues. I try to make it less stressful. Stress isn’t good for anyone, and you don’t want your child to feel that stress. I try to separate them from that stress but it’s getting harder as they’re getting older to do that.
SK: In your opinion, what makes Dupixent such a great treatment for children suffering from severe eczema?
KD: When I heard about Dupixent, because it’s a new solution to this problem, I was so excited and wanted to share my experience. I did my research and everyone I talked to said it’s a complete game changer, it’s a tool we didn’t use to have. When we were struggling to find treatment, you sort of had to play whack-a-mole trying all the different options. They had topical steroid creams, which is not something you want to do long term with your child, at least I didn’t, and I felt uncomfortable with some of the topical creams. We also tried some diet changes in the beginning, and it might have helped a little bit, but it also added another layer of stress for my child to try and rule out food groups. It can be challenging. It did seem to play a part, but I don’t know that it was the end all be all solution for us. One of the things I try to think about is immune system building. That’s one of the things I like about Dupixent, it actually goes to the source of the problem and targets the inflammation. Systemic inflammation is one of the things that I was always concerned about, which is part of the disease. I used to worry a lot about that and try to mitigate that.
It’s one of those things that, because it’s a chronic disease that’s ongoing to a greater or lesser degree, just knowing something like Dupixent exists and can now be used in younger children, it’s such a relief to me as a mom and I feel like people should know about it. I also feel like moms, certainly when we were going through it, would say things to me like, “it’s just dry skin” or “it will go away” or “you can just scrub it off” and for my experience, these were not solutions. I searched for a long time to find anything that worked at all. That’s why I’m speaking out now, to help people know that there are new solutions out there and to help people who would otherwise suffer for a long time if they don’t find a solution.
SK: What advice can you give to parents experiencing a similar struggle?
KD: Listen to your instincts. I struggled for almost a year in terms of communicating my concerns to our doctors. It was ongoing, and not just a rash, but it was hard for me to feel confident about communicating that. Listen to your instincts because you know if it’s something ongoing, changing and mysterious, as opposed to when we’d be at the playground and other moms would say it’s just dry skin. That made me feel bad as a mom, that I haven’t been able to solve the dry skin. So, I would try different moisturizers, but that’s not a treatment for atopic dermatitis. Listen to yourself and feel powerful in your communication with your doctors, and know that there are tools available that can help.
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