Introduction Topical corticosteroids (TCS) of different potencies are the main treatment to control atopic dermatitis (AD). The Dutch guideline on AD for general practitioners (GPs) recommends a stepwise approach in which treatment steps are tailored to the severity of the disease, starting with the lowest possible potency of TCS. However, it remains unclear whether the recommended stepwise approach is most efficient. This randomised open-label controlled trial aims to determine whether a potent TCS is more effective than a low-potency TCS in the initial treatment of children with a moderate flare-up of AD in primary care. In the observational cohort, the overall aim is to determine the frequency, burden and determinants of flare-ups of AD during follow-up. Methods and analysis The study is an observational cohort study with an embedded pragmatic randomised controlled, open-label trial. Eligible are patients diagnosed with AD (aged 12 weeks to 18 years) who visited the GP for AD or received repeated prescriptions for AD in the previous 12 months; follow-up of the cohort is 1 year. Children are enrolled in the trial if they have a flare-up of AD during follow-up in the cohort. Eligible children are randomised to the intervention group (with a potent TCS once daily) or to the GP guideline group (with a low potency TCS once daily). Primary outcome is the difference in average subjective disease severity over 24 weeks follow-up in the trial, measured with the patient-oriented eczema measure. As secondary outcome, the Eczema Area and Severity Index is measured. Ethics and dissemination This study tests the hypothesis that immediate treatment with a potent TCS during a flare-up of AD leads to faster and more efficacious results as compared with starting with a TCS with low potency with less overall use of TCS. The study protocol is approved by the Medical Ethics Committee (MEC) of the Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam, the Netherlands (MEC-2017-328). The results of the study will be published in international peer-reviewed journals and presented at national and international conferences. Trial registration number NTR: 6679; Pre-results.

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Keywords atopic dermatitis, cohort, paediatrics, Primary care, randomised open-label controlled trial
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Journal BMJ Open
Halewijn, K.F.V. (Karlijn F Van), Bohnen, A.M, Berg, P.J.V.D. (Pieter J Van Den), Pasmans, S.G.M.A, Bindels, P.J.E, & Elshout, G. (2019). Different potencies of topical corticosteroids for a better treatment strategy in children with atopic dermatitis (The Rotterdam Eczema study): Protocol for an observational cohort study with an embedded randomised open-label controlled trial. BMJ Open, 9(6). doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2018-027239