According to researchers, about 10% to 15% of children under 5 suffer from eczema -- also known as atopic dermatitis. And most of these children develop symptoms in the first six months of life. The condition causes irritated and inflamed skin and often causes an itchy rash.
Traditional treatments for infant eczema include avoiding potential skin irritants and keeping the skin adequately moisturized. Topical steroid creams are typically used only for short-term treatment of flare-ups. Long-term use of steroid creams in young children can cause deterioration or thinning of the skin.
The FDA approved Elidel in December 2001 but only for eczema patients 2 and older. It is the first cream of its type -- giving doctors and people with eczema an option other than steroid creams.
In this study, published in the February 2003 issue of TheJournal of Pediatrics, 186 babies with mild to moderate eczema were randomly assigned to receive twice-daily applications of Elidel or a placebo cream.
After six weeks, twice as many children who were treated with Elidel were clear or almost clear of eczema compared with those on the placebo (55% versus 24%). Researchers say Elidel produced quick results, and there was a 37% increase in the number of infants whose condition cleared in the first 15 days of treatment.
Close to 70% of the infants with mild or moderate eczema saw their condition improve after six weeks of treatment compared with about 40% of the placebo group.
Following the initial six-week study, participants who were using the placebo were given the option to switch to Elidel for an additional 20 weeks. Those who switched also reported improvements similar to those found in the initial study, and by week 27 about two-thirds of the infants treated with the cream had complete or good control of their eczema.
Researcher Vincent C. Ho, MD, of the University of British Columbia, and colleagues say Elidel was well tolerated and there were no related side effects.