Torrelo and colleagues described the efficacy and safety of baricitinib in combination with topical corticosteroids in pediatric patients with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis. At the high dose of 4 mg daily, the IGA success rate was about 40%, similar to what we expect for adults treated with dupilumab and less than what we might expect with upadacitinib.
Studies have already been done on efficacy and safety of baricitinib in adults with atopic dermatitis. But baricitinib is indicated for the treatment of adult patients with severe alopecia areata and is not currently indicated as a treatment for anyone with atopic dermatitis, at least not in the United States. At this time, I think the most useful aspect of Torrelo and colleagues' findings is being able to tell our adult patients with alopecia areata that baricitinib was safe enough that they could test it in children as young as 2 years old with eczema.
Perälä and colleagues' report comparing topical tacrolimus and topical corticosteroids (1% hydrocortisone acetate or, if needed, 0.1% hydrocortisone butyrate ointment) in young children with atopic dermatitis is fascinating. They saw patients back at 1 week and followed them for 3 years. In just 1 week, both groups had massive and similar improvement in their atopic dermatitis, and that improvement continued throughout the study. Here are some take-home points:
- Atopic dermatitis responds rapidly to low-to-medium–strength topical steroids.
- Bringing patients back at 1 week may have been a critical aspect of this study, as adherence to topicals can be abysmal; bringing patients back at 1 week probably enables them to use their treatment much better than they would otherwise.
- If we need a nonsteroidal topical, we have an excellent one available at low cost in the form of topical tacrolimus.
Perälä and colleagues also did this study to see whether good treatment of atopic dermatitis in these young children would have long-term benefits on atopic airway issues. Because the researchers didn't have a placebo group (and considered it unethical to have one), we cannot tell whether the topical treatment provided any benefit in that regard.
Yamamoto-Hanada and colleaguesexamined whether "enhanced" topical steroid treatment would prevent food allergy in children with eczema compared with standard topical steroid treatment. Perhaps a better word than "enhanced" would be "aggressive." The enhanced treatment entailed having infants receive alclometasone dipropionate for the whole face and betamethasone valerate for the whole body except face and scalp. While the researchers saw a reduction in egg allergy (from roughly 40% to 30%), they also saw reduced body weight and height. A key take-home message is that with extensive use of topical steroids, we can see systemic effects.