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Good quality research into skin disease treatments is limited, even though they affect a quarter of the population, and are the 3rd most common reason why people go to their GP.

This programme of work comprises three multi-centre randomised controlled trials designed to answer a number of questions in dermatology that are important to clinicians and patients. This programme is a collaboration with the UK Dermatology Clinical Trials Network (UK DCTN) and the Centre of Evidence Based Dermatology at the University of Nottingham.

The UK DCTN is a collaborative network of dermatologists, dermatology nurses, health services researchers and patients throughout the UK and Southern Ireland.

Three studies have been funded to date in cellulitis, severe eczema and bullous pemphigoid.

Cellulitis is a painful and serious infection of the skin and the tissues just below the skin surface. It accounts for around 2-3% of all hospital admissions. We are currently involved in a study called PATCH which investigates whether penicillin can prevent further attacks.

One in five of all children of school age has eczema. In severe eczema, the skin can become broken, raw and bleed. Some scientists think that there may be a link between water hardness and eczema. The SWET trial looked at whether deliberately softening water used in the home by installing a water softener improved eczema in children. The results from this trial will be reported in the near future.

Bullous pemphigoid (BP) is a rare disease that causes tense, itchy blisters and painful skin erosions that can affect the whole body. Up to two in five patients die from the disease. BP is usually treated with oral corticosteroids but it is thought that the side effects of these drugs may contribute to the death of some BP patients. This study will look at whether doxycycline is a safer and effective alternative to prednisolone.