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Summary

Background

There is only retrospective evidence for the efficacy of narrowband ultraviolet B (NB-UVB) in children with eczema.

Objectives

To measure the difference in means for objective scores [Six Area Six Sign Atopic Dermatitis score (SASSAD), percentage surface area] and quality-of-life scores, between patients treated with NB-UVB and unexposed cohorts at the end of treatment, and 3 and 6 months post-treatment.

Methods

Twenty-nine children aged 3–16 years for whom NB-UVB was indicated, were scored prospectively using SASSAD and percentage surface area involvement at baseline, at 12 weeks (end of treatment) and 3 and 6 months post-NB-UVB. Their scores were compared with those of unexposed children (= 26) for whom NB-UVB phototherapy was indicated and offered, but who chose not to undertake treatment.

Results

There was a 61% reduction in mean SASSAD score in the NB-UVB cohort compared with an increase of 6% in the unexposed cohort. Mean SASSAD score for the NB-UVB cohort at the end of treatment was 11·6 vs. 24·8 for the unexposed; difference in means −13·2 [95% confidence interval (CI) −18·7 to −7·7, < 0·0001]. Mean surface area involvement at the end of treatment was 11% for the NB-UVB cohort vs. 36% for the unexposed cohort; difference in means −25% (95% CI −34% to −16%, < 0·0001). Subjective and quality-of-life scores showed significant difference between cohorts at the end of treatment (< 0·05). Objective scores remained significantly lower than in the unexposed cohort 3 and 6 months after treatment.

Conclusion

NB-UVB is clinically effective and improves quality of life in children with moderate-to-severe eczema. The effect is maintained for 6 months after treatment.