oa Current Allergy & Clinical Immunology - Non-pharmacological management of atopic dermatitis, including emollients : review article

Volume 27, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1609-3607



Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a chronic relapsing inflammatory skin condition affecting approximately 25% of children and 3% of adults. Atopic dermatitis has a major impact on the quality of life of both patients and their families, and this impact may be even more significant than that of many other chronic diseases. Atopic dermatitis is not curable, and constant care and therapy are necessary in order to control the disease. Although numerous medications that treat AD effectively are available, they have a considerable side effect profile and cost implications. Therefore, the management of AD, with safer and potentially more cost-effective non-pharmacological treatment options, needs attention. This article is not a comprehensive review of all of the non-pharmacological measures available for treating AD, but includes the most practical and important options. Occlusive dressings, including the use of "wet wraps", correct bathing practices, the use of antiseptics and antimicrobials, laundry practices, choice of clothing, phototherapy, appropriate use of emollients, psychological measures as well as the education of patients will be discussed. Some of these non-pharmacological treatment options (emollients, correct bathing practices, education) form the cornerstones of AD treatment. Unfortunately, although these treatment options are very effective and widely used, robust data supporting their efficacy and cost-effectiveness is not readily available. Further research in this field should be encouraged, especially in the South African setting.

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