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A randomised placebo-controlled trial of oral and topical antibiotics for children with clinically infected eczema in the community: the ChildRen with Eczema, Antibiotic Management (CREAM) study

A randomised placebo-controlled trial of oral and topical antibiotics for children with clinically infected eczema in the community: the ChildRen with Eczema, Antibiotic Management (CREAM) study
A randomised placebo-controlled trial of oral and topical antibiotics for children with clinically infected eczema in the community: the ChildRen with Eczema, Antibiotic Management (CREAM) study
Background Secondary skin infection is common during eczema exacerbations and many children are treated with antibiotics when this is suspected, although there is little high-quality evidence to justify this practice.Objective To determine the clinical effectiveness of oral and topical antibiotics, in addition to standard treatment with emollients and topical corticosteroids, in children with clinically infected eczema.Design Multicentre randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.Setting General practices and dermatology clinics in England, Wales and Scotland.Participants Children (aged 3 months to < 8 years) with a diagnosis of eczema (according to U.K. Working Party definition) and clinical suspicion of infection.Interventions (1) Oral flucloxacillin and topical placebo; (2) topical fusidic acid (Fucidin®, Leo Laboratories Limited) and oral placebo; and (3) oral and topical placebos, all for 1 week.Main outcome measures Patient-Orientated Eczema Measure (POEM) at 2 weeks (assessing subjective severity in the week following treatment).Results We randomised 113 children (36 to oral antibiotic, 37 to topical antibiotic and 40 to placebo), which was fewer than our revised target sample size of 282. A total of 103 (92.0%) children had one or more clinical features suggestive of infection and 78 (69.6%) children had Staphylococcus aureus cultured from a skin swab. Oral and topical antibiotics resulted in a 1.52 [95% confidence interval (CI) –1.35 to 4.40] and 1.49 (95% CI –1.55 to 4.53) increase (worse subjective severity) in POEM score at 2 weeks, relative to placebo and controlling for baseline POEM score. Eczema Area and Severity Index (objective severity) scores were also higher (worse) in the intervention groups, at 0.20 (95% CI –0.12 to 0.52) and 0.42 (95% CI 0.09 to 0.75) for oral and topical antibiotics, respectively, at 2 weeks. Analyses of impact on the family, quality of life, daily symptom scores, and longer-term outcomes were all consistent with the finding of no or limited difference and a trend towards worse outcomes in the intervention groups. Sensitivity analyses, including adjusting for compliance and imputation for missing data, were consistent with the main findings.Conclusions Our data suggest that oral and topical antibiotics have no effect, or a harmful effect, on subjective eczema severity in children with clinically infected eczema in the community. The CIs around our estimates exclude a meaningful beneficial effect (published minimal clinically important difference for POEM is 3.4). Although most patients in this trial had features suggestive of infection and S. aureus on their skin, participants primarily had mild–moderate eczema and those with signs of more severe infection were often excluded. Clinicians should consider avoiding oral and topical antibiotic use in children with suspected infected eczema in the community who do not have signs of ‘severe infection’. Further research should seek to understand how best to encourage the use of topical steroids and limit use of antibiotics in those with eczema flares without signs of severe infection, as well as developing tools to better phenotype eczema flares, in order to better define a population that may benefit from antibiotic treatment.
1366-5278
1-84
Francis, Nicholas
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Ridd, Matthew J.
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Thomas-Jones, Emma
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Shepherd, Victoria
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Butler, Christopher Collett
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Hood, Kerenza
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Huang, Chao
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Addison, Katherine
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Longo, Mirella
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Marwick, Charis
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Wootton, Mandy
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Howe, Robin
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Roberts, Amanda
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Haq, Mohammed Inaam-ul
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Madhok, Vishnu
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Sullivan, Frank
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Francis, Nicholas
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Ridd, Matthew J.
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Thomas-Jones, Emma
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Shepherd, Victoria
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Butler, Christopher Collett
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Hood, Kerenza
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Huang, Chao
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Addison, Katherine
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Longo, Mirella
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Marwick, Charis
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Wootton, Mandy
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Howe, Robin
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Roberts, Amanda
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Haq, Mohammed Inaam-ul
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Madhok, Vishnu
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Sullivan, Frank
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Francis, Nicholas, Ridd, Matthew J., Thomas-Jones, Emma, Shepherd, Victoria, Butler, Christopher Collett, Hood, Kerenza, Huang, Chao, Addison, Katherine, Longo, Mirella, Marwick, Charis, Wootton, Mandy, Howe, Robin, Roberts, Amanda, Haq, Mohammed Inaam-ul, Madhok, Vishnu and Sullivan, Frank (2016) A randomised placebo-controlled trial of oral and topical antibiotics for children with clinically infected eczema in the community: the ChildRen with Eczema, Antibiotic Management (CREAM) study. Health Technology Assessment, 20 (19), 1-84. (doi:10.3310/hta20190).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Background Secondary skin infection is common during eczema exacerbations and many children are treated with antibiotics when this is suspected, although there is little high-quality evidence to justify this practice.Objective To determine the clinical effectiveness of oral and topical antibiotics, in addition to standard treatment with emollients and topical corticosteroids, in children with clinically infected eczema.Design Multicentre randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.Setting General practices and dermatology clinics in England, Wales and Scotland.Participants Children (aged 3 months to < 8 years) with a diagnosis of eczema (according to U.K. Working Party definition) and clinical suspicion of infection.Interventions (1) Oral flucloxacillin and topical placebo; (2) topical fusidic acid (Fucidin®, Leo Laboratories Limited) and oral placebo; and (3) oral and topical placebos, all for 1 week.Main outcome measures Patient-Orientated Eczema Measure (POEM) at 2 weeks (assessing subjective severity in the week following treatment).Results We randomised 113 children (36 to oral antibiotic, 37 to topical antibiotic and 40 to placebo), which was fewer than our revised target sample size of 282. A total of 103 (92.0%) children had one or more clinical features suggestive of infection and 78 (69.6%) children had Staphylococcus aureus cultured from a skin swab. Oral and topical antibiotics resulted in a 1.52 [95% confidence interval (CI) –1.35 to 4.40] and 1.49 (95% CI –1.55 to 4.53) increase (worse subjective severity) in POEM score at 2 weeks, relative to placebo and controlling for baseline POEM score. Eczema Area and Severity Index (objective severity) scores were also higher (worse) in the intervention groups, at 0.20 (95% CI –0.12 to 0.52) and 0.42 (95% CI 0.09 to 0.75) for oral and topical antibiotics, respectively, at 2 weeks. Analyses of impact on the family, quality of life, daily symptom scores, and longer-term outcomes were all consistent with the finding of no or limited difference and a trend towards worse outcomes in the intervention groups. Sensitivity analyses, including adjusting for compliance and imputation for missing data, were consistent with the main findings.Conclusions Our data suggest that oral and topical antibiotics have no effect, or a harmful effect, on subjective eczema severity in children with clinically infected eczema in the community. The CIs around our estimates exclude a meaningful beneficial effect (published minimal clinically important difference for POEM is 3.4). Although most patients in this trial had features suggestive of infection and S. aureus on their skin, participants primarily had mild–moderate eczema and those with signs of more severe infection were often excluded. Clinicians should consider avoiding oral and topical antibiotic use in children with suspected infected eczema in the community who do not have signs of ‘severe infection’. Further research should seek to understand how best to encourage the use of topical steroids and limit use of antibiotics in those with eczema flares without signs of severe infection, as well as developing tools to better phenotype eczema flares, in order to better define a population that may benefit from antibiotic treatment.

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Published date: 1 March 2016

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 436081
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/436081
ISSN: 1366-5278
PURE UUID: b0885bbe-4a96-405b-8d5b-cd3644e2b5b7
ORCID for Nicholas Francis: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-8939-7312

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Date deposited: 27 Nov 2019 17:30
Last modified: 17 Dec 2019 01:20

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Contributors

Author: Matthew J. Ridd
Author: Emma Thomas-Jones
Author: Victoria Shepherd
Author: Christopher Collett Butler
Author: Kerenza Hood
Author: Chao Huang
Author: Katherine Addison
Author: Mirella Longo
Author: Charis Marwick
Author: Mandy Wootton
Author: Robin Howe
Author: Amanda Roberts
Author: Mohammed Inaam-ul Haq
Author: Vishnu Madhok
Author: Frank Sullivan

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