Childhood eczema cannot be prevented by daily moisturising, study finds

A surprising study
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  • New research has found there's little point going heavy on the moisturiser to prevent against childhood eczema.

    Previously healthcare professionals advised parents to use moisturisers to prevent eczema in babies, but a new study has found there is no evidence to support this.

    This research, named The Barrier Enhancement for Eczema Prevention study (BEEP), was led by experts from the University of Nottingham and was supported by Dundee University.

    The team looked at 1,294 newborn babies who were born to families with asthma, hayfever of eczema.

    Parents of one group were told to apply daily moisturising cream to their babies until their first birthday – the other group were told not to apply any.

    Overall, it found no evidence that the daily use of moisturiser during the first year of life could prevent the condition in the children who were taking part in the study. However, researchers did find there were early signs that daily moisturiser could increase the likelihood of developing a food allergy.

    woman applying lotion to baby with eczema

    The study found that there was no evidence to support that moisturising could protect against eczema (Getty)

    Professor Hywel Williams, a dermatologist at the University of Nottingham who led the study, commented, “Whilst this is disappointing for sufferers who thought that was an option for their children, we can now recommend that this advice is not given to parents and begin looking at what other possible preventative options there may be.

    However he did stress that these findings must not be confused with those who use moisturisers to help with eczema.

    He added, “It is important not to confuse our study on moisturisers for eczema prevention with the use of moisturisers for people who have eczema, where the evidence of benefit is much greater.”

    Professor Sara Brown of Dundee University – who lent her genetic expertise to the study – added, “This study has shown that we need to understand much more about the very complex skin barrier and how it protects our bodies from allergies and eczema.”

    Eczema affects around one in five children and babies in the UK, but the exact cause remains unknown.

    In young babies, eczema is usually found in the facial area – particularly the cheeks and forehead. As a baby starts to crawl, it may be found on parts which rub against the floor.