Unlocking the Secret to Effective Atopic Dermatitis Treatment: Meta-Analysis Reveals Topical Solutions that Work

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Pimecrolimus, Tacrolimus, and Moderate-Potency Topical Corticosteroids Most Effective in Treating Atopic Dermatitis: Study


Pimecrolimus, tacrolimus, and moderate-potency topical corticosteroids (TCS) have been identified as the most effective treatments for atopic dermatitis (AD) in a recent systematic review and meta-analysis. The study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, analyzed the efficacy of various topical treatments for AD and identified the most effective options based on patient-important outcomes.

Key Findings:

  • Pimecrolimus improved six out of seven patient-important outcomes, including AD severity, itch, sleep disturbance, eczema-related quality of life, AD flare, any adverse events, and discontinuation of treatment due to adverse events.
  • Tacrolimus in both high and low doses improved five out of seven patient-important outcomes.
  • Moderate-potency TCS in Groups 4 and 5 improved four and six patient-important outcomes, respectively.
  • Topical antibiotics were found to be one of the least effective options for treating AD, whether used alone or in combination with other treatments.

Implications and Recommendations

Given the increasing number of topical therapy options for AD, clarity in the relative merits and potential harms of each treatment approach is essential. This study provides important and immediate implications for achieving optimal AD outcomes. Patients, clinicians, and policymakers can use this information to make evidence-based decisions regarding the best treatment options for AD.


The systematic review and meta-analysis included 219 randomized trials involving 43,123 participants. Various interventions were analyzed, and outcomes were assessed using SCORing Atopic Dermatitis (SCORAD). The majority of the participants had mild to moderate AD symptoms. The studies were assessed for bias, and missing outcome data was identified as the most frequent risk of bias. The data was collected from various sources up until September 5, 2022.


This study provides valuable insights into the comparative efficacy and safety of topical treatments for AD. Pimecrolimus, tacrolimus, and moderate-potency TCS were identified as the most effective options based on patient-important outcomes. Further research is needed to better assist patients in choosing the most appropriate AD treatment.

About the Author

Elizabeth Short is a staff writer for MedPage Today. She often covers pulmonology and allergy & immunology. For more updates, follow Elizabeth Short on Twitter.



This study was funded by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. The authors have reported various relationships with industry.

Primary Source:

Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

Source Reference: Chu DK, et al “Topical treatments for atopic dermatitis (eczema): systematic review and network meta-analysis of randomized trials” J Allergy Clin Immunol 2023; DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2023.08.030.

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