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Summary

Background

Infantile haemangiomas (IHs) are the most common vascular tumours of infancy. Topical therapies are a possible treatment for superficial IHs.

Aim

To determine the efficacy and safety of topical therapy in the treatment of superficial proliferating IHs.

Methods

The medical records of all the patients with proliferating superficial IHs were reviewed. All lesions had been treated either with imiquimod 5% cream or timolol 0.5% ophthalmic solution. Lesions were classified into pairs, with one of each treatment in each pair, matched by anatomical location, colour and size. A visual analogue scale (VAS) and the Haemangioma Activity Score (HAS) were used to evaluate the efficacy of the two drugs. The paired Student t-test was used to test for differences in recovery with these two treatments.

Results

In total, 51 patients treated with timolol and 94 treated with imiquimod met the inclusion criteria, and 20 lesions treated with timolol were successfully matched to a lesion treated with imiquimod. The paired t-test indicated that there was no significant difference in either VAS score (P = 0.11) or HAS (P = 0.49). For the imiquimod-treated patients, crusting was the most common reaction (65.0%, 13/20). This did not cause any superficial scarring or skin pigmentation in the matched pairs; however, superficial scars (14.9%, 14/94) and skin pigmentation disorders (28.7%, 27/94) were reported for some of the unmatched cases. There were no adverse events (AEs) during the treatment with timolol.

Conclusions

Both imiquimod 5% cream or timolol 0.5% ophthalmic solution showed equivalent clinical efficacy after 4 months of treatment. Timolol appeared to have fewer AEs than imiquimod in the management of superficial IHs. Larger, prospective controlled trials with long-term treatment are needed to confirm these results.