Management and treatment of atopic dermatitis with modern therapies, complementary and alternative medicines: a review

  • Yik-Ling ChewEmail author
  • Mayasah Al-Nema
  • Vivian Wai-Mun Ong


Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a common dermatological disease characterized by relapsing pruritus and rash accompanied by cutaneous physiological dysfunction. This disease could affect certain population worldwide, including infants, children and adults. The prevalence of AD has been increased rapidly over the past few decades and the severity of the disease, symptoms, and effects on patients’ quality of life may vary among individuals. AD could be caused or triggered by several factors, such as genotypic, climatic, food allergens and environmental. Many treatments are available to alleviate the symptoms and severity of AD, including topical therapy, immunosuppressant and systemic therapy, phytotherapeutic approach, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), as well as complementary and adjunct therapies. Topical therapies involve moisturizers, emollients, topical corticosteroids, topical pimecrolimus and tacrolimus and antipruitic/antihistamine therapy. Whereas, systemic therapies and immunosuppressant prescribed for AD treatment include cyclosporine A, azathioprine and methotrexate. Nowadays, not only the modern medicines are used for treatment of AD but also the phytotherapy using herbs and TCM are commonly incorporated into the therapy. In addition some studies have been showed that complementary/adjunct therapies are effective as preventive approaches for managing AD. In this review some examples of these therapies and approaches will be discussed with relevant supporting literatures.


Atopic dermatitis Herbal therapies Anti-inflammatory Topical corticosteroids Traditional Chinese medicine 



Atopic dermatitis




Broadband ultraviolet light B


Cyclosporine A


Dermatology Life Quality Index


Eczema Area and Severity Index


Ethyl phenylpropiolate




Interferon gamma


Investigator’s Global Assessment


Immunoglobulin E




















Nitrogen dioxide


PentaHerb formula


Polyunsaturared fatty acids


Severity scoring of atopic dermatitis


Thymus and activation-regulated chemokine


Traditional Chinese medicines


Transdermal water loss






T-helper 22


Tumor necrosis factor alpha


Thymic stromal lymphopoietin




Ultraviolet A


Ultraviolet B


Visual analogue scale


Virgin coconut oil



The authors would like to thank Elsevier for the license for the figures. The authors would like to thank UCSI University for scientific databases access for the literatures used in the review paper.

Funding sources

This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Authors’ contributions

YLC, MAN and VWMO wrote the manuscript. MAN and VWMO contributed equally to the manuscript. YLC critically revised the manuscript. All authors have read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Statement

No ethical issue involved in this review.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.


We declared that this manuscript, or parts thereof, has not been submitted or published elsewhere for publication.


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© Institute of Korean Medicine, Kyung Hee University and Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Pharmaceutical SciencesUCSI UniversityCherasMalaysia

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