Emollients ‘Plus’ Has Corticosteroid-Sparing Effect in Atopic Dermatitis

Careful corticosteroid use and monitoring are needed to avoid adverse effects, and continuous emollient skin care may help manage flares.

Emollient ‘plus’ had a corticosteroid-sparing effect compared with a classical emollient among patients with atopic dermatitis (AD), according to study results published in Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology & Venerology.

Researchers conducted an open, single-center, randomized, controlled trial (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT05644691) in Slovakia. Patients (N=119) with mild to moderate AD were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to receive either emollient ‘plus’ (n=58) or emollient (n=61). Those in the emollient ‘plus’ group were instructed to apply their balm in the morning and evening on affected areas for 28 days, and the participants in the emollient group were instructed to keep using the balm as usual. All participants received four 30 g tubes of 0.1% hydrocortisone and were asked to record use of the corticosteroids in a diary. The primary outcome was the amount of corticosteroid used.

The participants had a mean age of 26.50 (SD, 17.5) years, 38% were under 18 years of age, 61.3% were women or girls, AD had onset at 15.4 (SD, 16.8) years of age, 95.8% had pruritus, 91.6% had chronic or chronically-relapsing dermatitis, and they had a Severity Scoring of AD (SCORAD) score of 25.9 (SD, 3.3) points.

Both groups had good compliance, applying the balm 1.92 to 1.93 times per day on 97.02% to 98.07% of days.

Between baseline and day 28, there was significant corticosteroid-sparing in the Emollient ‘plus’ group compared to the Control group…

The participants in the emollient ‘plus’ group used 31% less corticosteroids during the 28 days than the control group (mean, 6.03 vs 9.16 g; P =.041) and applied corticosteroids on fewer days (mean, 0.55 vs 0.71 applications/day; P =.0203).

No group differences in SCORAD scores or skin sensation scores were observed; however, both participants in both groups reported significant reductions in severity (P <0001) and intensity (P <.0001) from baseline.

Age-related group differences in AD Burden Scale (ABS) scores were observed at day 28, in which adults in the control group reported significant decreases to ABS-Adult total scores from baseline (mean, 35.8 vs 30.7 points; P ≤.05), whereas adolescents in the intervention group reported significant decreases to ABS-Family total scores from baseline (mean, 17.7 vs 13.5 points; P ≤.05), respectively.

The researchers and participants graded the emollient ‘plus’ intervention as having a tolerability score of 78.9% and 78.9% and emollient control a score of 88.3% and 91.3%, respectively.

Limitations of the study include the short study duration and the open, single-center design.

The study authors conclude, “Between baseline and day 28, there was significant corticosteroid-sparing in the Emollient ‘plus’ group compared to the Control group in quantity, the number of applications per day and the number of days of use, whilst efficacy was maintained as there were no significant differences between the [2] groups for all clinical evaluations or tolerability.”

Disclosures: This research was supported by La Roche-Posay. Some study authors declared affiliations with biotech, pharmaceutical, and/or device companies. Please see the original reference for a full list of disclosures.


Zelenkova H, Kerob D, Salah S, Demessant-Flavigny AL. Impact of daily use of emollient ‘plus’ on corticosteroid consumption in patients with atopic dermatitis: an open, randomized controlled study. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. Published online April 24, 2023. doi:10.1111/jdv.18947