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Cutis. 1982 Nov;30(5):671-5.

Short-term topical corticosteroid therapy (halcinonide ointment) in the management of atopic dermatitis.


The efficacy of short-term treatment of acute exacerbations of atopic dermatitis with a corticosteroid ointment (halcinonide, 0.1 percent) was demonstrated by comparing such a formulation with its ointment base (placebo). A double-blind, paired comparison study was conducted in 214 patients. Within two weeks the therapeutic response was judged excellent in 137 (64 percent) of the patients receiving the corticosteroid treatment. The number of responses judged good to excellent was 182 (85 percent). With the placebo, there was an excellent response in 50 (23 percent) of the patients and the number judged good to excellent was 95 (44 percent). Although these placebo responses attested to the appropriateness of a highly occlusive ointment vehicle in this condition, the corticosteroid containing formulation was superior (p less than 0.001). In only 10 (5 percent) of the patients was there a poor response to corticosteroid treatment. direct comparison of the response of similar bilateral lesions showed the corticosteroid to be superior to the placebo in 147 (69 percent) patients and the placebo to be superior in just 31 (15 percent) (p less than 0.001). No adverse reactions occurred with either preparation. We conclude that in the management of atopic dermatitis, full advantage should be taken of short-term corticosteroid therapy (preferably in ointment form), which is virtually free of those potential unwanted effects of chronic therapy with this class of drugs.

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