A behavioural method of habit reversal, in combination with a hydrocortisone cream, was compared with the use of cream alone in the treatment of 17 patients with atopic dermatitis. The patients were assigned randomly to two groups, one of which received the combination treatment and the other regular ointment treatment. The patients' skin status was assessed before and after treatment, and the patients recorded their scratching during the study. Both groups improved, but the group which received habit-reversal therapy improved significantly more. A strong correlation was found between reduction in scratching and improvement in skin status.