Difficulty sleeping is commonplace for children with atopic dermatitis, a condition similar to eczema that causes itchy inflammation of the skin. It has been found that children suffering from AD have decreased levels of nighttime melatonin. Because melatonin has both sleep-inducing and anti-inflammatory properties, the researchers in this study hypothesized that melatonin may be an effective treatment for pediatric patients suffering from AD.
The researchers used a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study involving patients aged 1-18 who had AD affecting at least 5% of their total body surface area. patients received either 3mg daily of melatonin or placebo for four weeks. The primary outcome of AD severity was measured using the SCORAD index, and the secondary outcome of sleep impact was measured using actigraphy and polysomnography, as well as urinalysis of sulfatoxymelatonin, the byproduct of melatonin metabolism.
After treatment, the SCORAD mean score dropped by 9.1, and the sleep-onset time dropped by 21.4 minutes on average. Importantly, no adverse effects were reported during the trial.
This study is interesting for patients looking for an OTC solution to both atopic dermatitis as well as sleep issues. The fact that no adverse events occured helps to support the conclusion that melatonin is not only an effective and cheaper solution to two issues as once, but it is also a safe solution in the pediatric population. This knowledge will be useful for us to know in the future, as over 3 million cases of AD are diagnosed annually(Source: Mayo Clinic)