Study: Antibiotics ineffective treatment for children with mild eczema

While antibiotics are widely used to treat mild pediatric eczema, clinical research recently published in the Annals of Family Medicine found the medications to be ineffective.

Researchers enrolled 113 children with mild cases of eczema and separated them into three study cohorts. Participants either received an antibiotic pill and a placebo cream; a placebo pill and an antibiotic cream; or two placebo treatments. Researchers monitored outcomes at two weeks, four weeks and three months. The team observed no difference between the three groups in terms of reduced eczema symptoms. The study's findings may not apply to children who experience more severe eczema.

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"We found rapid resolution in response to topical steroid and emollient treatment and ruled out a clinically meaningful benefit from the addition of either oral or topical antibiotics," concluded the study's authors. "Children seen in ambulatory care with mild clinically infected eczema do not need treatment with antibiotics."

Antibiotics have long been used to treat eczema since excessive colonization of bacteria on the skin can incite flare-ups. As growing antibiotic resistance continues to threaten the future of medical care, curbing the excessive use of the medication has become a priority.

Michael Grosso, MD, chair of pediatrics at Northwell Health's Huntington (N.Y.) Hospital, reviewed the study and told HealthDay News the findings were "terribly important."

"This is a good example of a common situation in medicine," Dr. Grosso told HealthDay. "A particular intervention 'makes sense,' becomes common practice — and often becomes the so-called 'standard of care' — only to be proved ineffective when the therapy is subjected to scientific investigation."

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