Background: Complementary and alternative interventions are becoming increasingly utilized as adjuncts to conventional treatment of atopic dermatitis (AD). While the number of studies continues to grow, the vastness of the subject coupled with the relatively poor quality and small size of the studies limit their usefulness to clinicians.
Purpose: Our aim was to comprehensively review randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of complementary and alternative therapies for AD.
Methods: Searches were performed on PubMed, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, EMBASE, and the Global Resource for EczemA Trial (GREAT) databases, focusing on RCTs of alternative or complementary AD therapies, with a sample size of ≥10, through March 2015 and limited to the English language. A total of 70 manuscripts met the inclusion criteria and were included in the final analysis.
Results: There is at least some level I evidence to support the use of acupuncture and acupressure, stress-reducing techniques such as hypnosis, massage, and biofeedback, balneotherapy, herbal preparations (with many important caveats), certain botanical oils, oral evening primrose oil, vitamin D supplementation, and topical vitamin B12. Many other therapies either have sufficient data to suggest that they are ineffective, or simply do not have enough evidence to formulate a verdict.
Conclusions: Careful review of the literature reveals several promising therapies in this domain; such findings may help direct further research that is necessary to bolster clinical recommendations for alternative or complementary treatments of AD.