Alitretinoin is a systemic retinoid licensed for use in adult patients suffering from chronic hand eczema recalcitrant to potent topical steroids. Experience with its use in childhood is lacking.
To report on the efficacy and safety of alitretinoin treatment in a cohort of children and adolescents with chronic hand eczema (CHE) and other inflammatory skin diseases.
We performed a retrospective chart review of all consecutive patients under the age of 18 years treated with alitretinoin at our paediatric skin centre. Physician's Global Assessment (PGA) was used as the primary outcome measure.
Thirteen children (9 girls and 4 boys) were enrolled in this study. The median age at start of treatment with alitretinoin was 11.5 years (range 5.8-15.8 years). Nine children were diagnosed with CHE, two with severe atopic dermatitis (AD), and two with inherited ichthyosis [netherton syndrome (NS), autosomal recessive congenital ichthyosis (ARCI)]. Moderate to excellent response (PGA decrease of ≥1 point) was observed in 7 (78%) of the nine patients with CHE, one of the two patients with extensive AD and in the one patient with ARCI. In the remaining four subjects, no convincing effect was documented. Tolerability was overall very good. The most common adverse event was headache in 10 patients (77%) during the initiation of treatment, leading to interruption of therapy in one subject.
Alitretinoin seems to be highly effective and safe for the treatment of paediatric CHE and should thus be considered in children with refractory disease under topical therapy. Larger studies are required to corroborate these findings.