We recently showed that multicomponent traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) therapy had steroid-sparing effects in moderate-to-severe eczema. We sought to evaluate TCM effects in severe eczema in a 7-year-old male with refractory disease and corticosteroid withdrawal syndrome.
Prior to referral, the patient had been treated since infancy with increasingly intensive standard of care, including high-dose topical and systemic corticosteroid and antibiotic therapy and was unable to tolerate further steroid treatment. The patient was administered a combination of oral and topical TCM for 17 months following discontinuation of his steroid regimen. His overall medical condition was assessed by SCORAD criteria and laboratory evaluations of serum IgE, absolute eosinophil count, and liver and kidney function tests.
The patient showed rapid improvement of clinical measures of disease after starting TCM therapy, with marked improvement of sleep quality within the first week, complete resolution of itching, oozing, and erythema at 2 weeks, and a 79% and 99% decrease in his SCORAD values after one month and 3–6 months of TCM, respectively. Serum total IgE decreased by 75% (from 19,000 to 4630 (kIU/L), and absolute eosinophil counts decreased by 60% (from 1000 to 427 cells/μL) after 12 months of treatment. The patient did not require oral or topical steroids during the 17-month trial of TCM. TCM was tapered without complications. His dermatologic manifestations continued to be well-controlled 3 months after discontinuation.
This case study suggests TCM should be further evaluated in controlled clinical studies of patients with severe, refractory eczema and steroid withdrawal syndrome.