Background: Pruritis caused by atopic dermatitis (AD) is not always well controlled by topical corticosteroid therapy, but use of tacrolimus often helps to soothe such intractable pruritis in clinical settings. Objective: To determine the anti-pruritic efficacy of topical tacrolimus in treating AD in induction and maintenance therapy. Methods: Prior to the study, patients were randomly allocated into two groups, induction therapy followed by tacrolimus monotherapy maintenance, and induction therapy followed by emollientonly maintenance. In the induction therapy, the patients were allowed to use topical tacrolimus and emollients in addition to a low dose (<10 g/week) of topical steroids. Patients showing relief from pruritis were allowed to proceed to maintenance therapy. Recurrence of pruritis in maintenance therapy was examined as a major endpoint. Results: Two-thirds of patients (44/68; 64.7%) showed relief from pruritis after induction therapy. Pruritis recurred in 23.8% (5/21) of the tacrolimus monotherapy group and in 100% (21/21) of the emollient group during maintenance period, a difference that was statistically significant. Conclusion: Use of topical tacrolimus is effective in controlling pruritis of AD compared to emollient.
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