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Feature Article

Childhood atopic dermatitis: overcoming parental topical corticosteroid phobia

Saxon D Smith, Shreya Dixit, Gayle Fischer



Topical corticosteroids are the mainstay of management of atopic dermatitis, the most common skin condition in children. When used appropriately under medical supervision, they are safe and have been shown not to cause cutaneous atrophy.

Key Points

  • Atopic dermatitis has significant biopsychosocial impacts on the patient and family unit, particularly when it is severe.
  • Topical corticosteroids (TCS) are the mainstay of its management. Used appropriately, these preparations are safe and do not cause cutaneous atrophy.
  • Topical corticosteroid phobia is a significant hurdle to effective treatment.
  • Education and information regarding appropriate use and safety of TCS increases confidence in and adherence to such treatment.
  • Key strategies are providing safety information on TCS, demonstrating the use of TCS and moisturisers, explaining the genetics and chronicity of atopic dermatitis, addressing allergy concerns and acknowledging the impact on the patient and the family unit.