New treatments for atopic dermatitis
- Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group
Atopic dermatitis now affects 15% to 20% of chil\ud dren in developed countries, and prevalence\ud in cities in developing countries undergoing\ud rapid demographic changes is quickly following suit.1\ud Most cases of atopic dermatitis in a given community\ud are mild, but children with moderate to severe disease\ud can have continuous itching and associated loss of\ud sleep. The social stigma of a visible skin disease can also\ud be soul destroying for both patient and family. A few\ud studies have suggested that some degree of prevention\ud of the disease is possible,2 although these measures\ud have not been taken up widely. In the absence of any\ud treatment that is known to alter the clinical course of\ud the disease, most treatment is aimed at reducing symp\ud toms and signs. After a relative lull of almost 40 years,\ud new drugs—tacrolimus and pimecrolimus—have\ud appeared that offer different approaches to managing\ud this miserable disease. Do they work? Are they safe?\ud And how do they compare with existing treatments?