That burning, all-consuming itch experienced by children with severe eczema can be soothed without the need for powerful oral steroids, showed a July 2014 study evaluating a process of wet clothes swaddling for atopic dermatitis.
Wet Wrap Therapy, or WWT, is a treatment for moderate to severe eczema that involves:
• Putting the patient in a warm bath for about 10 to 20 minutes.
• Then patting skin dry and applying topical medication to eczema-affected areas and moisturizer to the non-affected areas.
• At this point, clothes (or bandages) soaked in water are worn by the patient, with a layer of dry clothes pulled on over top.
“We know that putting a patient on oral steroids can give you a dramatic improvement. But then (when the drugs wear off) you have this dramatic rebound, and how many times are you going to do that?” says study author Dr. Mark Boguniewicz, pediatric allergist and immunologist at National Jewish Health in Denver. In his view, “eventually the side effects are worse than what you’re treating.”
For the study, 72 children between the ages of 6 months and 12 years underwent WWT for 2 to 16 days. After finishing the therapy, all study participants had significantly reduced eczema, and this improvement lasted for a whole month afterward.
As well, none of the participants had to use the stronger eczema drugs in the month following.
“On average these children did the wet wrap therapy for four days, and yet the benefit was lasting,” says Boguniewicz, whose study was published in published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. He views this treatment is a crisis intervention, to help calm the itch when eczema flares up and nothing seems to be providing relief.
Atopic dermatitis affects almost 20 percent of school-aged children and 3 percent of adults.