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Chapter 20: Atopic dermatitis

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Atopic dermatitis (AD), also known as atopic eczema, is a chronic relapsing inflammatory dermatosis characterized by pruritus, xerosis, and a close association with IgE-mediated sensitization to aeroallergens and foods. More than 60% of children with AD are at risk to develop allergic rhinitis or asthma (the atopic march). The distribution of lesions varies by age. Infants tend to have lesions on the cheeks and scalp, and very young children typically have involvement over the extremities cheeks, forehead, and neck. Rash in the diaper area of infants is rarely AD. Lesions in older children and adults are usually located in flexural areas, such as the antecubital and popliteal fossae, along with the head and neck. Acute lesions of AD begin as erythematous papules and serous exudates. Secondary lesions include excoriations and crusted erosions due to scratching. Subacute lesions appear as erythematous scaling papules and plaques. If the itch and rash progress uncontrolled, chronic lichenified AD develops featuring accentuated skin markings with hyperpigmentation. Trigger avoidance, skin hydration, and topical steroids are the first steps for improvement. In acute lesions of AD, the Th2 cells produce IL-4, IL-13, and IL-31, which may potentiate barrier dysfunction and contribute to pruritus. In chronic lesions, the Th1 cells predominate and secrete interferon gamma and IL-12. Barrier dysfunction from filaggrin predisposes patients to AD. Skin superinfection, particularly with Staphylococcus aureus, is common, and cultures of affected lesions help guide therapy. Eczema herpeticum from herpes simplex virus can be life-threatening in AD patients.
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Keywords: Atopic dermatitis; S. aureus; atopic eczema; atopic march; barrier dysfunction; filaggrin; superinfection; topical steroids

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-05-01

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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