Treating eczema in children

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Researchers at the University of Southampton are taking part in a trial to discover which moisturiser is best at treating childhood eczema.

Eczema affects one in five children in the UK, causing dry and itchy skin. The impact it has on children and their families is great, usually affecting their sleep, play and mood.

Most children are treated by their GP, who usually prescribe emollients (moisturiser) to relieve skin dryness and steroid creams (such as hydrocortisone) for when skin becomes red and itchy.

The new study, called BEE (Best Emollient for Eczema), will compare four of the most commonly used emollients in a randomised clinical trial. The trial will recruit 520 children through GP surgeries, who will be given one of the four emollients to use for at least four months.

Parents and carers of the children taking part will be asked to regularly record their child’s eczema symptoms. To assess long-term effects, there will also be a follow-up after 12 months.

The £1.4m study is being funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment Programme, and also involves the universities of Bristol and Nottingham.

Dr Miriam Santer, Associate Professor in Primary Care Research at the University of Southampton, says:

Emollient moisturisers are the mainstay of eczema treatment and parents are often really surprised that we don’t know which emollient is the most effective for childhood eczema. At the moment there is a trial and error approach to finding an emollient that works best for their child, which can be frustrating. We are very pleased to be starting the BEE study, as it will address this important evidence gap.


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