Listed in Issue 157


HUGHES and COLLEAGUES, Department of Dermatology, The Adelaide and Meath Hospital, Incorporating the National Children's Hospital, Tallaght, Dublin, Ireland.


Alternative medicine has been defined as forms of therapy or examination that have no scientific basis and for which no effective or diagnostic reliability has been demonstrated by scientific methods. The use of complementary or alternative medicine is increasing and controlled clinical trials on the subject are few.


We performed a questionnaire-based study of 80 paediatric patients with atopic dermatitis. This questionnaire assessed the duration of treatment, the reason(s) for trying alternative therapy, the approximate cost and the success of the treatment, the duration of the childhood eczema, and whether the child had ever required hospital admission for eczema.


Of the total, 34 (42.5%) patients had used alternative medicine. Herbal remedies and homeopathy were used most often. Most treatments were reported to show no benefit and in three instances deterioration was reported. This study has prompted us to enquire routinely regarding alternative medicine use.


Alternative therapies are subject to minimal regulation and have been associated with serious side effects. We would recommend enquiries regarding alternative medicine use in all paediatric dermatology patients.


Hughes R, Ward D,  Tobin AM,  Keegan K and  Kirby B. The use of alternative medicine in pediatric patients with atopic dermatitis. Pediatric Dermatology. 24(2): 118-20, Mar-Apr 2007.

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