Are Emollient Baths Effective for Treating Eczema?
Childhood eczema is common and causes a significant impact on the children and families that are coping with the condition. A typical treatment regimen includes emollient therapy, whether by use of emollient soap substitutes, leave-on emollients, or bath additives that are designed to be added to bath water and thought to leave a film of oil over the skin.
A recent study specifically looked at bath additives to evaluate both their clinical and cost effectiveness in the standard management of eczema in children.
The study randomized participants into two groups: the intervention group were asked to use one of three commonly prescribed bath additives (Oilatum, Balneum, or Aveeno) regularly for 12 months. The control group were asked not to use any bath additives for 12 months. Both groups were given standardized instructions on how to wash, including the use of leave-on emollient as a soap substitute, and asked to continue their additional eczema management, including regular leave-on emollients and topical corticosteroids when required. The results showed that emollient bath additives provided minimal or no additional benefit beyond the standard eczema care regimen.
The authors conclude that these results are important because the bath additives may add costs to treatment programs that are better applied elsewhere. The results do not affect recommendations for using emollients as soap substitutes or the use of leave-on emollients during an eczema flare-up.