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Summary

This review summarizes clinically important findings from 19 systematic reviews published between January 2006 and August 2007 on the topic of atopic eczema (AE). The evidence suggests that avoidance of allergenic foods during pregnancy or the use of hydrolyzed or soy formula milks does not prevent eczema. Delayed introduction of solids may decrease eczema risk. Asthma typically develops in around a third of children with eczema, and wheezing in early infancy is a predictor of risk. Established topical corticosteroids such as betamethasone should be used just once daily. Topical tacrolimus and pimecrolimus can be used for people who become dependent on topical corticosteroids, especially on sensitive sites such as the face. Wet wraps are useful in secondary care for inducing remission in a child, but they are not a treatment for mild eczema and they should not be used long term. Oral ciclosporin can be used for inducing a remission in severe eczema, and azathioprine can be considered for maintenance treatment. Narrowband ultraviolet (UV)B phototherapy can be used for chronic AE, and UVA1 may be useful for acute eczema. There is little convincing evidence of a clinical benefit with evening primrose oil for eczema, but there is some good new evidence that educational support to eczema families is beneficial. Future trials need to be larger, and include active comparators, patient-reported outcomes and longer-term aspects of disease control. They should be better reported, and registered on a public clinical trials register.