Efficacy and safety of wet wrap therapy for patients with atopic dermatitis: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Br J Dermatol. 2017 Sep;177(3):688-695. doi: 10.1111/bjd.15165. Epub 2017 May 19.


Wet wrap therapy (WWT) consists of topical steroids administered under a layer of wet cotton bandages or garments. Several trials with WWT have reported promising results in atopic dermatitis (AD). However, no systematic review and meta-analysis on its efficacy and safety has been published. Our objective was to conduct a systematic review of the literature on WWT in AD to assess its efficacy and safety. We included randomized controlled trials among patients of all ages with a diagnosis of AD based on predefined criteria or made by a dermatologist. Electronic searches were performed from 1970 to 30 March 2016 in the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, MEDLINE, Embase and the World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry. Selection of studies and data extraction were performed independently by two researchers, and discrepancies were resolved by consensus. Six trials comparing WWT with topical steroids in children or adults with AD were included. Sample sizes ranged from 19 to 51 patients. Results on clinical severity and quality of life were reported incompletely and proved heterogeneous across studies. A nonsignificant tendency to increased risk of mild skin infections was observed in those treated with WWT (pooled relative risk 6·35, 95% confidence interval 0·83-48·55). The overall grade of quality of evidence for the efficacy and safety outcomes was low. In conclusion, the evidence that WWT is more effective than conventional treatment with topical steroids in AD is of low quality. Further clinical trials should establish the efficacy of WWT in AD.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Bandages / adverse effects
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin Diseases, Infectious / etiology
  • Steroids / administration & dosage*
  • Steroids / adverse effects
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Steroids