DOI: 10.1093/bjd/ljad162.050 ISSN: 0007-0963

430 Comparison of effectiveness of topical treatments for atopic dermatitis

Sabiha Uddin, Britton Upchurch, Rithi J Chandy, Steven R Feldman
  • Dermatology


Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects 15% of children and 7.3% of adults in the USA. While topical corticosteroids (TCs) and topical calcineurin inhibitors (TCIs) are considered the mainstay of topical treatments for AD management, long-term use is cautioned due to possible adverse effects (AEs). We present and review the efficacy and safety of new FDA-approved topical agents, topical agents currently in clinical trials, and TCs and TCIs that are currently available for AD management. We also present and compare the safety and efficacy of new and old FDA-approved topical agents, along with other topical treatments that are currently in clinical trials for AD management. An extensive review of the literature was performed using the PubMed, Cochrane, Scopus and ClinicalKey databases with year parameters set between 2014 and 2022. Search keywords included ‘atopic dermatitis’, ‘topical treatments’, ‘comparison’, ‘effectiveness’, ‘new topical treatments for AD’, ‘JAK inhibitors’, ‘PDE-4 inhibitors’, ‘delgocitinib’, ‘crisaborole’ and ‘tapinarof’. We identified four topical drug classes that are efficacious in treating AD: corticosteroids, calcineurin inhibitors, phosphodiesterase-4 (PDE-4) inhibitors and aryl hydrocarbon receptor agonists. Criteria for treatment success were an IGA score of 0 or 1 and improvement ≥2 grades from baseline. Treatment varied among studies from 2 to 24 weeks. Topical corticosteroids were the most effective after adjusting for vehicle (0.05% clobetasol propionate emulsion foam, 38%; 0.1% clocortolone pivalate, 31.6% IGA reduction), followed by tapinarof 1% cream with 29% of patients achieving treatment success, TCIs (0.03% tacrolimus ointment, 24.8%; 1% pimecrolimus cream, 32.1% vehicle-adjusted achieving IGA of ≤2) and PDE-4 inhibitors (2% crisaborole ointment, 10.4%). Tapinarof was the most efficacious in treating AD. There is a lack of head-to-head trials for topical treatments for AD. Due to the tremendous burden of AD on patients’ physical and mental health, there is a need for additional therapies.

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