Efficacy of topical azathioprine and betamethasone versus betamethasone-only emollient cream in 2-18 years old patients with moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis: A randomized controlled trial


1 Skin Diseases and Leishmaniasis Research Center, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran

2 Department of Dermatology, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran

3 Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, School of Health, Sabzevar University of Medical Sciences, Sabzevar, Iran

4 Skin and Stem Cell Research Center, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran


Background: Atopic dermatitis is a chronic skin disease with increasing prevalence worldwide and a considerable burden especially among children. To circumvent the problems related to oral azathioprine (AZT) we aimed to evaluate its topical variant and assess its efficacy in patients aged 2-18.
Materials and Methods: In a single-blind trial, we randomized the patients into two groups, one treated with topical emollient containing AZT and betamethasone (BM), and the other treated solely with topical emollient of BM. The treatments were administered twice a day for 8 weeks in both groups. The efficacy, recurrence, and the presence of side effects were evaluated using SPSS 20.
Results: The amount of reduction in severity scoring for atopic dermatitis (SCORAD) score was significantly greater in the group treated with the topical AZT (P = 0.024). Incidentally, there were no difference between two treatments in difference in proportions of recurrence and adverse effects as well as SCORAD reduction in subgroups of sex and age (all P > 0.05).
Conclusions: Our results showed the superiority of topical AZT over BM with a low recurrence and adverse effects. No expectation of severe side effects, like those of oral AZT, is the major advantage of topical AZT. The sample size was an issue in uncovering the value of AZT in the subgroups. Conducting prolonged studies of quality-of-life and comparing the topical AZT potency relative to the common alternatives are recommended areas of future work.


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