Does Order of Application of Emollient and Topical Corticosteroids Make a Difference in the Severity of Atopic Eczema in Children?

Pediatr Dermatol. 2016 Mar-Apr;33(2):160-4. doi: 10.1111/pde.12758. Epub 2016 Feb 9.


Background: Atopic eczema (AE) is a common chronic inflammatory skin disorder in children, with emollients and topical corticosteroids (TCSs) commonly prescribed as treatment. There is no published guidance on the correct order of application of emollient and TCS in children with AE.

Objective: The objective of this study was to determine whether the order of application of emollient and TCS makes a difference in the severity of AE in children.

Methods: Forty-six patients ages 4 months to 5 years with moderate to severe AE were randomized to two groups: group A applied emollient followed by TCS 15 minutes later twice daily, and group B applied TCS followed by emollient 15 minutes later twice daily for 2 weeks.

Results: There was no statistically significant difference in the Eczema Area and Severity Index (EASI) score, percentage of body surface area (BSA) affected, or itch score between groups A and B (p > 0.05). Group A had statistically significant improvement in the EASI score, percentage BSA affected, and itch score from baseline to weeks 1 and 2; group B demonstrated statistically significant improvement only in the EASI score from baseline to week 1 and in itch score from baseline to week 2. There was no difference in adverse events between the groups.

Conclusion: This study suggests that the order of application of emollient and TCS does not matter in the treatment of AE in children and that parents can apply topical medications in whichever order they prefer.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / administration & dosage*
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / adverse effects
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / drug therapy*
  • Emollients / administration & dosage*
  • Emollients / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Random Allocation


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Emollients