Atopic eczema: the current state of clinical research

Br J Nurs. 2014 Nov;23(20):1061-6. doi: 10.12968/bjon.2014.23.20.1061.


Atopic eczema (AE), also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic, inflammatory, itchy skin condition that usually develops in early childhood. There has been a steep rise in the burden of atopic eczema, with up to 20% of children in developed countries now suffering from the disease (Flohr and Mann, 2014). Although atopic eczema is not always recognised as a serious medical condition by health professionals, it can have a significant negative impact on quality of life for children and their parents or carers (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), 2013). The application of eczema treatments often results in conflict between parents and their children, which affects family relationships further and drains the carers' physical and emotional resources (Santer et al, 2013). It is typically an episodic disease of exacerbation with flares occurring two or three times per month, with periods of remission. For some children, however, it is continuous (NICE, 2013). Although a common condition, there are uncertainties regarding treatments used both for health professionals and for patients and their carers. A recent priority setting partnership highlighted the top 14 uncertainties (Box 1), which will provide guidance for future research and answer questions that are important to both clinicians and patients (Batchelor et al, 2013). This article cannot cover all aspects of AE, but will give an update on some of the current research projects and signpost the reader to further resources.

Keywords: Atopic ezcema; Prevention; Research; Treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Dermatitis, Atopic / etiology*
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / genetics
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / therapy
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Nursing Process