Get access

Blinded side-to-side comparison of topical corticosteroid and tacrolimus ointment in children with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis


  • Conflict of interest: there are no conflicts of interest.

Dr Peter Arkwright, FRCPCH, DPhil, Booth Hall Children's Hospital, Charlestown Road., Manchester M9 7AA, UK.


There is little information on the relative efficacy of topical tacrolimus and corticosteroids in the treatment of atopic dermatitis (AD) in children. In a single-centre, prospective, observer-blinded, side-to-side comparative study (ISRCTN65507338), 96 children with moderately severe AD were enrolled. The study aimed to compare the relative effectiveness of the child's usual topical corticosteroid with 0.03% tacrolimus ointment applied for 1 week, and if there was no difference, 0.1% tacrolimus ointment applied for a further week. Topical tacrolimus was found to be more effective than topical corticosteroid in 72 of the 93 children (77%) who completed the study. Using multiple-regression analysis with age, gender, pretreatment surface area affected and pretreatment corticosteroid potency as covariants, the only factor that reduced the chance of observing a beneficial effect with tacrolimus was moderate or potent topical corticosteroid use (OR = 0.13; 95% CI 0.02–0.74).

Get access to the full text of this article