Background: The role of exclusion diets in the management of atopic eczema in young children is uncertain. This randomised controlled trial evaluates the effect of excluding egg from the diet in young children with atopic eczema and sensitivity to eggs. Fifty-five such children were randomised either to a 4-week regimen, in which mothers were given general advice on care of eczema and additional specific advice from a dietician about an egg exclusion diet (diet group), or to a control group in which general advice only was given. Both groups continued conventional topical treatment. Disease activity was assessed by estimates of the surface area affected by eczema and by an arbitrary severity score. Possible egg sensitivity was identified by RAST before randomisation and after the trial by double-blind placebo-controlled egg challenge.
Results: The mean reduction in surface area affected by eczema was significantly greater (p = 0.02) in the group receiving dietary advice (from 19.6% to 10.9% area affected) than in the control group (from 21.9% to 18.9%). A significant improvement also occurred in severity score (p = 0.04): from 33.9 to 24.0 units for the diet group compared with a decrease from 36.7 to 33.5 in the control group. The study suggests that advice on the dietary exclusion of eggs is useful as part of the overall management of young children with atopic eczema and sensitivity to eggs.