Press release issued: 15 July 2013
A new £1.2 million UK-wide study to determine the effectiveness of antibiotics to treat atopic eczema — a debilitating skin condition that affects around one in three children — is due to begin in July.
The Children with Eczema Antibiotic Management (CREAM)-study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and led by scientists at the universities of Bristol, Cardiff and Dundee, is recruiting around 500 children to compare the effectiveness of antibiotic syrup to antibiotic cream and placebos in treating infected eczema.
The two-year project, which will examine the short and long-term effects of these treatments, will help researchers gain an insight into the relationship between clinical features, the presence of bacteria on the skin, and medication cost-effectiveness.
Children taking part in the study will be assessed on their general health status along with the impact the condition has on their quality of life and their families. A questionnaire completed by the child’s parent or carer during the week following treatment will allow the team to find out the extent to which each child is affected by eczema.
The team will also measure the effect of antibiotics on the development of antibiotic resistance by taking swabs (samples) from the child’s skin, mouth and nose. Medication side effects will also be measured.
Dr Matthew Ridd, NIHR Clinical Lecturer at Bristol’s School of Social and Community Medicine, said: “Around 175 children are being recruited to take part in the study from GP practices in Bristol. Findings from the project will help medical practitioners find out the most effective form of treatment for children and to ensure unnecessary antibiotic treatment is avoided.”
Dr Nick Francis, the study’s lead author, at Cardiff School of Medicine, said: “Eczema affects up to a third of young children at some point in their lives, and can cause terrible suffering to children and their families.
“Eczema flares are sometimes thought to be caused by bacterial infections, but we do not know whether antibiotics reduce eczema severity in these children, and if so, whether antibiotic syrup or cream works better.
“Thousands of children receive antibiotic treatment for eczema every year. If these treatments work then we can promote use in those who are most likely to benefit, if not then we can avoid exposing children to the risks of unnecessary antibiotic treatment.”
The study will take place in over 90 general practices in England, Scotland and Wales. Findings from the project will be published around September 2015.
Atopic eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is the most common form of eczema. It mainly affects children, but can continue into adulthood. Eczema is a condition that causes the skin to become itchy, red, dry and cracked.
**This project was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA) Programme and will be published in full in Health Technology Assessment. The views and opinions expressed therein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the HTA programme, NIHR, NHS or the Department of Health.
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