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Eczema bath products questioned

3rd October 2007

The value of specialised bath products for people with eczema is questionable, according to a report published today.

Bath emollients help to soften and moisturise the skin and are advised by the British Association of Dermatologists to help manage atopic eczema.

They work by preventing water loss from the skin and form a protective barrier against external skin irritants.

But a study published in the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin (DTB) claims there is no evidence from controlled clinical trials to show that these products are effective at improving eczema.

“There is a consensus among clinicians? to indicate that emollients applied directly to the skin are effective,” the report states. “The same cannot be said of bath emollients.

“Not only are there no published randomised controlled trials on bath emollients in atopic eczema, there is no consensus of clinical opinion that such therapy is effective.”

The study says there have been no trials that have addressed whether a bath emollient is more effective than having a water bath with a suitable emollient as a soap substitute followed by direct application of a topical emollient to the skin.

Each year the NHS spends over ?16 million on bath emollients; the DTB claims that given this cost and the lack of evidence “we believe their use requires proper evaluation”.

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