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J Am Acad Dermatol. 2012 Jul;67(1):100-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2011.06.025. Epub 2011 Oct 5.

Wet dressing therapy in conjunction with topical corticosteroids is effective for rapid control of severe pediatric atopic dermatitis: experience with 218 patients over 30 years at Mayo Clinic.

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Department of Dermatology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, USA.



At our institution, hospitalization for intensive treatment (combining wet dressings and topical corticosteroids) is a primary intervention for severe pediatric atopic dermatitis. Prior reports of this treatment are limited.


We sought to review the efficacy of wet dressings for pediatric atopic dermatitis.


We reviewed records of pediatric patients hospitalized from January 1, 1980, through April 20, 2010, who received intensive topical treatments for atopic dermatitis.


In total, 218 pediatric patients had widespread atopic dermatitis severe enough to warrant hospitalization, despite prior outpatient topical treatments and other interventions such as immunomodulating agents, phototherapy, dietary manipulation, or contact allergen avoidance. Mean (SD) age was 5.97 (4.91) years (range, 2 months-17 years); 141 patients (65%) were female. There were 266 hospitalizations: 192 patients (72%) had one admission, 15 (6%) had two admissions, and 11 (4%) had 3 or more admissions. Mean (SD) duration of hospitalization was 3.61 (2.23) days (range, 1-16 days). Upon discharge, all patients showed improvement. In 239 of 266 hospitalizations, patient records showed quantification of improvement (global assessment): 121 (45%) had 75% to 100% improvement, 102 (38%) had 50% to 75% improvement, and 16 (6%) had 25% to 50% improvement.


This was a retrospective study.


Intensive inpatient treatment (with wet dressings and topical corticosteroids) was highly effective in controlling severe and recalcitrant atopic dermatitis. Intensive topical treatment, although underused, is an effective first-line approach for patients with severe atopic dermatitis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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