For two weeks in June I ran a survey asking parents of children with eczema what their experience was of different treatments. 231 people responded.
What the survey clearly shows is that what works for one child does not necessarily work for another. There was no treatment that had not worked for anybody.
The most successful treatment is emolient which is no surprise. 73% of people who had used a prescribed emolient found slight or significant improvement in the eczema. 69% found benefit from an emolient that was not prescribed.
70% found bleach baths beneficial emphasising the importance of controlling staph. However for a small percentage 3.5% it actually made the eczema worse.
For those children that had confirmed food allergies, elimination of those foods helped the majority with 69% seeing slight or considerable improvement. 55% found specific eczema diets of benefit.Vitamins were slightly less successful but 39% still saw some benefit.
56% of those who had tried probiotic creams had positive results but the sample size was very small with only 17% of parents trying them. This may be because probiotic creams are very new on the market.
Oral probiotics had a 41% positive result yet 52% had tried them.
Less than 8% had tried phototherapy but 55% of these found it beneficial.
53% found antibacterials baths helped but this was less effective than bleach baths.(70% positive)
97% have used steroid creams which are clearly very effective at getting rid of eczema. Unfortunately 73% found that the eczema returned as soon as they stopped using the steroid. This well known phenomenon called rebound is clearly a challenge for parents, many of whom worry about the side effects of prolonged steroid use.
Only 9% had confirmed systematic effects from steroids. It is difficult to know what to read into this figure because the survey did not question frequency of usage, potency or coverage, all of which affect the risk of systematic effects.
Surprisingly only 39% of people who have used topical immune suppressants found that the benefits outweighed any side effects. This is surprising because after steroids it seems to be the favourite treatment by the UK National Health Service. In fact zinc creams available over the counter seem to be more successful with 47% finding them of benefit. Natural remedies also scored better with 49% positive but 15% found that they made the eczema worse.
The goods news is that 70% of parents said that their childs eczema is better than one year ago. This matches my own experience. It is important to find out what works for your child and with patience and persistence you can help reduce your childs suffering. I hope this survey helps all parents reach that goal quicker.