Background During the last two decades wet-wrap treatment (WWT) has been advocated as a relatively safe and effective treatment modality in children with severe and/or refractory atopic dermatitis (AD). Unfortunately, there are still many unsolved issues concerning the use of wet-wrap dressings in patients with AD.
Objectives To make an inventory of the different methodologies and to evaluate the currently available evidence for the use of WWT as an intervention treatment in children with severe and/or refractory AD.
Methods We performed a search of the literature via the online PubMed database. Reference lists from relevant articles were scanned for additional publications. Publications describing a treatment modality for children with severe and/or refractory AD, which included the application of wet dressings, were collected and evaluated using the guidelines of the NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, University of York.
Results Twenty-four publications were included for evaluation. Eleven of the publications detailed original clinical studies (study design level 2–4), while 13 revealed expert opinions (study design level 5). Evidence levels did not exceed level 4.
Conclusions Large prospective studies evaluating the efficacy and safety profile of WWT are lacking. We were able to formulate the following conclusions with a grade C of recommendation. (i) WWT using cream or ointment and a double layer of cotton bandages, with a moist first layer and a dry second layer, is an efficacious short-term intervention treatment in children with severe and/or refractory AD. (ii) The use of wet-wrap dressings with diluted topical corticosteroids is a more efficacious short-term intervention treatment in children with severe and/or refractory AD than wet-wrap dressings with emollients only. (iii) The use of wet-wrap dressings with diluted topical corticosteroids for up to 14 days is a safe intervention treatment in children with severe and/or refractory AD, with temporary systemic bioactivity of the corticosteroids as the only reported serious side-effect. (iv) Lowering the absolute amount of applied topical corticosteroid to once daily application and further dilution of the product can reduce the risk of systemic bioactivity.