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01-12-2011 | Article

Dead Sea climatotherapy effective for eczema

Abstract

Free abstract

MedWire News: Dead Sea climatotherapy is a highly effective treatment for people with eczema, and is particularly useful in people with more severe disease, research shows.

Climatotherapy has been used for many years in the Dead Sea, Israel, and the Canary Islands, Spain, and involves a combination of sunbathing and swimming in the sea over a period of several weeks.

The Dead Sea has an unusually high concentration of both salt and minerals, which allow bathers to float effortlessly, the researchers explain. The sunshine in the region is also remarkable, being filtered through a localized "ozone layer" that has a low risk for sunburn, even with prolonged exposure.

These unique properties have led to Dead Sea climatotherapy being tested for the treatment of a range of skin conditions, including dermatitis and psoriasis.

In this study, Marco Harari (Hadassah University, Jerusalem, Israel) and colleagues evaluated Dead Sea climatotherapy in 78 patients with atopic eczema. This is a chronic allergic skin disorder that causes inflammation, redness, and itching.

Participants in the study spent an average of 30 days undergoing climatotherapy in the Dead Sea. Before and after treatment, each person's skin symptoms were assessed by a physician using "SCORAD," a validated tool for assessing the extent and intensity of eczema.

The average SCORAD score fell from 50.5 before treatment to 11.0 after treatment. This represented a dramatic improvement in eczema symptoms, say the researchers, and far exceeded the 15-point fall that is considered by physicians to represent a "meaningful treatment response."

Furthermore, people with the most severe eczema before treatment had the most striking response to climatotherapy.

"Our current data, together with previous reports, strongly support the usefulness of Dead Sea climatotherapy for patients with moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis," conclude Dr Harari and colleagues in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.

MedWire (www.medwire-news.md) is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Joanna Lyford