Emollients are hydrating skin treatments that cover the skin with a protective film to trap in moisture. There are three types: leave-on emollients, soap substitutes and bath additives. Researchers from the University of Southampton state that evidence supports the use of leave-on emollients and soap substitutes for kids with eczema, but their study found there was no “significant” difference between the severity of the eczema and the number of symptom flare ups experienced by kids who used emollient bath additives over a 16-week period and those who didn’t.
These additives are widely prescribed at a cost of more than £23m annually to the NHS in England, according to the research published in the BMJ and the researchers say their findings may help guide decisions around prescribing in this area.
Commenting on the results of the study, Andrew Proctor, chief executive of the National Eczema Society said it’s really important that people with eczema continue to use emollients to protect their skin, both as ‘leave-on’ medical moisturisers and as soap substitutes.
“The wider research evidence shows emollients are safe and effective, and are a vital part of day-to-day skin care for millions of people living with eczema,” he said. “The children in this study were asked to use their leave-on emollient as a soap substitute when bathing. It’s perhaps not that surprising that the research found there was little benefit in using an additional emollient bath additive.”
He added that as eczema is the most common inflammatory skin condition in childhood, it’s vital we have better evidence about what treatment works well. “For a condition that affects millions of children and adults, it’s concerning that more research hasn’t already been done into basic treatment approaches,” he added.