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Practical Approaches to the Treatment of Atopic Dermatitis

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Atopic dermatitis is a chronic pruritic cutaneous disease that occurs in 0.5% to 1% of the general population and affects almost 10% of all children. Since this is a disease that is associated with both a very high level of total IgE and a high incidence of allergic respiratory disease, it behooves the practicing allergist to become familiar with the diagnosis and treatment of atopic dermatitis. This following discussion will focus on the identification of major and minor clinical features of the disease and review the spectrum of immune dysregulation that is frequently seen with these patients. The primary focus of this review will be directed at the identification of treatment options available to allergists within the published practice guidelines of the American Academy of Dermatology and practice guidelines that are currently being developed by the American Academy of Allergy & Immunology. Atopic dermatitis is an "itch which rashes and not a rash which itches" and therefore, any patient treatment program should address the multiplicity of potential trigger factors that provoke this itching. These factors include heat, humidity, and perspiration, in addition to the ingestion of certain food allergens and the topical exposure to both dust mite antigen and animal dander. Recent studies suggest that the pathogenesis of allergic disease entails a complex inflammatory process in which the TH2 lymphocyte might play a major role in shifting the immune response in favor of disease. Accordingly, recent immunomodulating treatments, such as interferon gamma and cyclosporine, might offer therapeutic options to the physician beyond the standard topical forms of treatment. In summary, the treatment of atopic dermatitis involves considerable clinical acumen, and the art of medicine plays a larger role in the treatment of this disease than in many other areas of medicine.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2500/108854194778816544

Publication date: November 1, 1994

More about this publication?
  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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