Pimecrolimus cream quickly eases eczema in infants

Pimecrolimus cream provides rapid relief of symptoms and helps promote sleep in young children with eczema, German researchers report.

Dr. Roland Kaufmann of the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Hospital in Frankfurt and colleagues note that few studies have examined the speed of response to this agent.

To investigate, the researchers randomly assigned 129 eczema patients between the ages of 3 and 23 months old to receive pimecrolimus 1% or a placebo cream, applied twice daily for four weeks.

The patients then continued in a 12-week extension phase of the study, which was followed by four weeks without treatment, Kaufman’s team explains in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Among patients given the active cream, the average scores for eczema area and severity decreased by 72 percent after four weeks, with a decrease of nearly 40 percent by day four of treatment. In contrast, among patients receiving the placebo cream, the eczema scores increased by more than 19 percent. The medication was equally effective for very severe and moderate disease.

Caregivers reported significant improvements in itchiness by day two of the study, and improvement in sleep disturbances by the third day, in patients given the pimecrolimus cream.

There was no rapid return of symptoms after pimecrolimus treatment was stopped. Instead, there was a gradual increase in signs and symptoms that did not reach the severity levels seen before treatment.

Based in these results, the researchers conclude that pimecrolimus cream is an effective and well-tolerated treatment for eczema in infants.

SOURCE: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, November 2004.

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Revision date: July 7, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD