Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a common skin concern that affects people of all ages, including children, although there is still no cure for this condition. What if, however, there was a way to prevent AD from occurring in the first place? According to recent research, the key to reducing the risk of developing AD may be daily moisturizing treatments for newborns who are at a high risk for this condition.
The Cost Effectiveness of Daily Moisturizing for Newborns
Because the majority of patients with eczema will develop the condition within the first five years of life, with nearly half of those patients developing eczema within the first year, prevention needs to start at a very young age. A recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics found that adopting a total-body moisturizing regimen for newborns who are at a high risk for developing AD is a very cost-effective way to prevent this condition altogether (Practical Dermatology).
To determine this, researchers put seven different moisturizers of various price ranges to the test. The results showed that all seven of these products–including Vaseline petroleum jelly, sunflower seed oil, CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, Aquaphor, Cetaphil, Aveeno Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream, and Vaniply ointment–were less expensive than the average yearly cost of managing eczema later in life (JAMA Pediatrics). In fact, the least expensive moisturizer, Vaseline petroleum jelly, cost only $0.04 per application, with a total expense of $7.30 over the six-month period. The most expensive cream was Vaniply ointment, and this product cost $2.96 per application, or $173.39 for six months. This is compared to the $274 average monthly costs for a family with a child with eczema (Practical Dermatology).
Reducing the Risk of Atopic Dermatitis
The question then becomes, does daily moisturization have a significant impact on the risk of developing AD later in life? According to multiple clinical trials, the answer seems to be yes (Miami Herald). Both studies, which were originally published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, found that daily moisturization reduced the incidence of eczema by as much as 50 percent.
The first study followed a group of 124 newborns considered high-risk for AD for a six-month period. During that time, a randomized group was chosen to apply a moisturizer daily, while the remaining group did not. Parents of the moisturized group could choose from sunflower oil, Cetaphil, or Aquaphor. As evidenced by the JAMA Pediatrics study, these moisturizers range in price from $0.25 to $1.00 per application, or $18.25 to $58.41 for the entire six months. At the end of the six-month period, the infants in the moisturized group were half as likely to develop eczema than those in the non-moisturized control group.
A second study with similar parameters found that the group of newborns treated with daily moisturizer had 15 percent less eczema after six months than the group without daily moisturization.
The Bottom Line
The annual U.S. cost of managing atopic dermatitis is estimated to range from $364 million to $3.8 billion. It is clear that taking preventive measures early in life to stop the condition from developing altogether could not only improve the quality of life of eczema sufferers, but also ease the financial burden of treating this chronic condition. There is now exciting new evidence to show that applying a gentle, relatively risk-free moisturizer to all newborns could significantly reduce the number of people who will develop eczema, while not breaking the bank.
Thus, pediatricians with newborn patients should highly consider recommending a daily moisturizer for at least the first six months of life to help minimize the risk of AD and the lifetime financial burden that comes along with it.
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