No benefit in using antibiotics in treatment of eczema study shows

Author: talkhealth

Date: OCT 2017

Estimates suggest that 40% of eczema flares are treated with topical antibiotics, however findings from a study led by Cardiff University suggest there is no real benefit of using either oral or topical antibiotics for mild eczema in children.

Eczema is a common skin condition, and affects around 1 in 5 children in the UK. Eczema sometimes gets worse, or 'flares', and having particular bacteria on the skin may contribute to causing some of these flares. Although eczema has been commonly treated by antibiotics in the past, there has been limited research to show whether this treatment is helpful or not.

The CREAM study was designed to find out if oral antibiotics (taken by mouth) or topical (creams and ointments applied to the skin) help improve eczema severity in children with infected eczema.1 All children who participated in the study also received standard eczema treatment with steroid creams and emollients (moisturiser) from their doctor.

Results from the analysis of data from 113 children with non-severely infected eczema, published in the Annals of Family Medicine journal, showed no substantial difference between the groups in the resolution of eczema symptoms at two weeks, four weeks or three months.2

Those conducting the study found that the use of topical corticosteroids and emollient treatment were more effective, and ruled out any benefit from the addition of antibiotics.

Dr Nick Francis, Clinical Reader at Cardiff University and practicing GP, who led the study said: "Topical antibiotics, often in combination products with topical corticosteroids, are frequently used to treat eczema flares. Our research shows that even if there are signs of infection, children with milder eczema are unlikely to benefit from antibiotics, and their use can promote resistance and allergy or skin sensitization".

"Providing or stepping up the potency of topical corticosteroids and emollients should be the main focus in the care of milder clinically infected eczema flares."

1. http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/644009/CREAM-Study-Summary-for-Healthcare-Professionals.pdf

2. https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-03-antibiotics-effective-clinically-infected-eczema.html

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Last revised: 19th October 2017

Next review: 19th October 2020