Background Homoeopathic therapies are routinely used for the management of skin diseases. However, there is a lack of evidence-based data on their effectiveness.
Objectives To assess the evidence for the efficacy of homoeopathic treatments in dermatology.
Methods We designed a systematic review of the controlled clinical trials (January 1962–April 2011) investigating homoeopathic therapies for the treatment of cutaneous diseases. We collected data from MEDLINE, PubMed, Current Contents, HomInform (Glasgow), reference lists, specialist textbooks and contacts with homoeopathic manufacturers. There was no restriction on language. Subsets were defined according to treated skin disease/condition. For each subset, two reviewers extracted data for information on study quality, type of remedy, population and outcomes.
Results After an extensive search, we isolated a very limited number of trials investigating homoeopathic treatments for cutaneous diseases. Overall, of the 12 trials with interpretable results, nine trials indicated no positive effects of homoeopathy. The three trials showing a positive effect were of low methodological quality.
Conclusions Reviewed trials of homoeopathic treatments for cutaneous diseases were highly variable in methods and quality. We did not find sufficient evidence from these studies that homoeopathy is clearly efficacious for any single dermatological condition.