Early Steroid Treatment of Infants with Eczema Reduces Egg Allergy, Study Finds

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Early and enhanced treatment of infants with atopic dermatitis using topical steroids reduced the onset of egg allergy, according to a study by a team of researchers from entities such as the National Center for Child Health and Development.

Food allergies occur when the immune system, which removes foreign substances from the body, reacts excessively to certain foods. Such allergies are caused not only by eating foods, but also when food comes into contact with skin that has a reduced barrier function due to conditions such as atopic dermatitis. It is thought that treatment for eczema caused by atopic dermatitis can suppress its onset, but this is not said to have been scientifically proven.

The team conducted research on 650 infants who were 7-13 weeks old and had been diagnosed with atopic dermatitis, and divided them into two groups. Among the infants who received the conventional treatment — in which topical steroids were applied only to the area where eczema appeared — 41.9% of them had allergic reactions when they were fed egg powder at the age of 28 weeks. On the other hand, when the enhanced treatment — in which steroids were applied to the entire body, including areas where eczema was not visible — the percentage of onset stood at 31.4%.

The team says that it is necessary to adjust the strength of the steroids and the duration of use according to symptoms in medical practice.

Masami Narita, a professor at Kyorin University who specializes in pediatric allergy, said, “It’s highly significant as this study is the first of its kind in the world to show that protection of weakened skin could reduce the risk of food allergies.”