Which Medications Are Prescribed Most Often for Atopic Dermatitis?

Steroid-sparing systemic agents may be a better long-term option for severe atopic dermatitis
Steroid-sparing systemic agents may be a better long-term option for severe atopic dermatitis

Topical corticosteroids appear to be the most commonly prescribed medications for atopic dermatitis, according to a new study published in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment.

Atopic dermatitis, a chronic inflammatory dermatologic disorder, manifests as pruritic (often lichenified) patches and plaques. Using data from the Humana database, study authors evaluated a cohort of 39,526 patients who saw a dermatologist for atopic dermatitis (ICD-9 code 691.8) between 2010–2015. Patients in the cohort were stratified based on age, race, and sex. Lists of their prescribed medications were compiled and sorted based on potential indication for atopic dermatitis.

The data showed the most common prescription medication for atopic dermatitis was topical corticosteroids (60.2%) followed by oral antibiotics (17.3%), antifungals (6.7%), antihistamines (6.4%), oral corticosteroids (5.9%), calcineurin inhibitors (2.3%), and emollients (1.2%). Male patients exhibited the highest rates of oral steroid prescriptions at 9.2% among 20–39 year olds and 9.8% among 40–59 year olds.

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"Presumably, individuals who are prescribed multiple courses of oral corticosteroids over time have severe atopic dermatitis with recalcitrance to other options," the authors write. They concluded that steroid-sparing systemic medications may be better suited for patients who require long-term treatment, as long as there are no contraindications. 

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