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20 February 2020

Daily moisturiser use does not prevent childhood eczema, study finds

Researchers have found that the use of moisturisers on newborn babies does not prevent eczema, as previously thought.


In the study published today in The Lancet, a team of researchers considered the impact of the daily use of moisturiser during the first year of life and found no evidence that it could stop the development of eczema. However, there was a small increase in the risk of skin infections. Additionally, the results showed early indications that daily use of these creams may increase the risk of food allergy.

The Barrier Enhancement for Eczema Prevention (BEEP) study looked at 1394 newborn babies from families with eczema, asthma or hayfever. The babies were randomly split into two groups. One group was instructed to apply moisturiser daily all over their baby up to their first birthday, while the other group was asked not to use moisturiser. Both groups received general advice about skin care.



We are delighted to have been a recruiting centre in the BEEP trial, although the results were surprising to us and the other study investigators. Based on smaller pilot studies, we had expected a clear benefit from early moisturiser use to prevent eczema.

Professor Carsten Flohr, Principal Investigator of BEEP trial, School of Basic & Medical Biosciences, King's

Eczema commonly starts in infancy and affects around one in five children in the UK. It is thought that a faulty skin barrier may contribute to the development of the skin condition. Moisturisers improve skin barrier function and some healthcare workers advise their regular use on newborn babies to prevent eczema.

Professor Hywel Williams, a dermatologist at the University of Nottingham who led the study, said:  “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. 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”.

The research was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment Programme.

Read the paper here.


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Head, Paediatric & Population-Based Dermatology Research, St John's Institute of Dermatology