Parental perception of efficacy of antihistamines for pruritus in pediatric atopic dermatitis

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Background: Clinicians have previously prescribed antihistamines for relief of atopic dermatitis (AD) associated pruritus. The use of antihistamines in AD has recently received less emphasis from newly published practice parameters that currently only recommend short-term, intermittent use of first-generation antihistamines to induce sleep in patients with AD. Objective: Our study aimed to determine parents' perception of the usefulness of antihistamines in reducing their child's itch due to AD. Methods: A 12-question survey was mailed to parents of patients who were attending a pediatric allergy clinic. Patients with physician-diagnosed AD who had a clinic visit in the past 3 years were included. Questions included the following: time since AD diagnosis, itching frequency, impact on sleep, frequency and relief provided from using antihistamines, and comparison of antihistamines to other antipruritus treatments. Results: Sixty-three percent of parents surveyed responded that antihistamines were helpful in the management of their child's AD, and only 5% did not find any itch relief. The majority of the responders were parents of younger patients (ages, 2-10 years) with immunoglobulin E sensitization and AD for more than a year. Eighty-five parents (68.5%) reported no interruption of sleep due to itching, and, among them, an almost equal number were currently solely using either a first- or second-generation antihistamine. The more antihistamines were perceived as relieving itching, the more they were used (ρ = 0.209, p = 0.025) and provided more relief than other products (ρ = -0.336, p < 0.001). When compared, parents ranked antihistamines to be as helpful as topical corticosteroids. Conclusion: Parents of pediatric patients with AD found that antihistamines were an important part of AD management. Copyright © 2016, OceanSide Publications, Inc.