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American Academy of Dermatology Research Confirms Genetic Skin Barrier Defect Linked to Eczema
Date:2/3/2008

Outlook good for better therapeutic options to reduce severity of disease,

related food allergies and infections

SAN ANTONIO, Feb. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Atopic dermatitis, one of the most common forms of eczema in this family of various inflammatory skin diseases, is a chronic disease marked by red, cracked and itchy skin. It is estimated that atopic dermatitis affects about 10 percent of children around the world and usually begins in the first year of life. Although the disease tends to improve with age, most patients still experience dry, sensitive skin and hand eczema. Patients with severe eczema may suffer lifelong, widespread symptoms that can be debilitating.

New studies examining the genetic basis of the condition support the longstanding theory that atopic dermatitis might be caused by a defect in the skin's protective outer layer -- known as the epidermal barrier -- allowing irritants, microbes and allergens to penetrate the skin and cause adverse reactions.

Speaking today at the 66th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology, dermatologist Jon M. Hanifin, MD, FAAD, professor of dermatology at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Ore., discussed the implications of this new research for managing eczema and why he believes early childhood intervention needs to be re-examined by the medical community.

"Dermatologists have suspected for many years that eczema is due to a barrier problem in the skin, as we have seen numerous cases of babies with severe eczema everywhere on their bodies except in the diaper area -- which stays surprisingly smooth," said Dr. Hanifin. "The reason is that the constant moisture in the diaper area keeps the skin from cracking. That is why we encourage parents to treat eczema in infants as early as possible and continually moisturize the skin."

Dr. Hanifin noted that the important new study found a connection between atopic dermatitis and the disease ich
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SOURCE American Academy of Dermatology
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