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The University of Southampton

Research project: BATHE Bath additives in the treatment of childhood eczema - Dormant

Currently Active: 

The BATHE study aims to find out whether bath emollients (moisturisers that are added to the bath) help with childhood eczema or not.

Please visit the BATHE website

The BATHE study results are in, please see our news item about this here. Further details here.

Eczema is very common in young children and causes distress for the child and family due to itching and sleep disturbance. The main treatment is emollients which moisturise the skin, and steroid creams/ointments to treat flare-ups. A NICE guideline on childhood eczema has recommended ‘complete emollient therapy’ – a care package that includes directly applied emollient, soap substitute emollient and bath emollient (a liquid added to the bath). However, the guideline highlighted that there is little evidence on whether adding in a bath emollient is helpful. While health professionals agree about the benefits of directly applied emollients and avoiding soap for children with eczema, there is less confidence in the benefits of bath emollients. It is possible that they do help because they are easy to use and come into contact with all the child’s skin, but it is possible that they are less effective than directly applying emollients to the skin. There is concern that some families view bath emollients as an alternative to directly applied emollients and are therefore using a less effective therapy instead of something that would help their child’s eczema more. Furthermore, bath emollients can have adverse effects as they sometimes cause stinging and redness of the skin and potentially cause accidents through leaving the bath slippery.

This trial will measure whether bath emollients help children with eczema. Children aged 1 to 11 will be randomly allocated to 2 groups: (1) standard eczema management with bath emollient and (2) standard eczema management without bath emollient. We will ask parents or carers to complete weekly diaries including a short questionnaire about eczema severity for the first 4 months and will check how many flare-ups of eczema are recorded in their GP records over 1 year. We will also ask parents and carers about any side effects or difficulties they have using the treatment (adherence to treatment). We will also measure use of additional treatments, such as directly applied emollients, from GP prescribing.



Chief Investigator: Dr Miriam Santer

Duration: 2014-2017


Funder: NIHR Health Technology Assessment

CONTACT for the study: 

Related research groups

Primary Care & Population Sciences
Primary Care Research group


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