Some high street allergy tests for children suffering from eczema are "inappropriate" and could provide false results, a health watchdog has warned.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) said that the tests, along with complementary therapies used to treat the condition, are often ineffective and many have not been adequately assessed.
The body has now issued new guidelines on both the treatments and the tests, warning NHS staff and patients to be wary of those which claim to help manage eczema.
Dr Sue Lewis-Jones, chair of the guideline development group, said the allergy tests fail to benefit up to 80% of children in the UK who suffer from the condition.
She added that they often show nothing but the fact the child's immune system is "a bit jumpy".
Instead, she said the guidelines suggest regular massage with skin emollients is the most effective way to tackle eczema, and that families should be prescribed a large choice to establish which one is best for them.
The NICE guidance also recommends doctors should take into account whether the condition, which affects one in five school children in the UK, is inhibiting the patient's everyday life.
Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply) "I have always said that emollients are the cornerstone of eczema treatment but are a bore to apply. Much easier to apply a dab of hydrocortisone and much less time consuming to explain, hence the trend for HC creams prescribed by some health professionals. Take the time to explain and give the patient a cream they like and you are more than half way there" - Kirsty Armstrong Lecturer/Practitioner in Primary Care
"Skin can only be made from the food we eat. I cured my eczema by switching to the diet to suit my blood type and including lots of omega-3 fatty acids. Creams can provide relief from acute symptoms but the underlying chronic condition needs a change in diet and often also other aspects of a persons lifestyle. I found the book 'Eat right 4 your type' by Dr PJ D'Adamo a good place to start" - Steve Parker, Leeds, England