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Research Reveals New Treatments for Atopic Dermatitis

Posted: March 24, 2009

New, more effective therapies are being developed in the treatment of atopic dermatitis, a skin condition that has been on the rise these past few years.

Atopic dermatitis, the common, chronic, inflammatory skin disease marked by red, itchy rashes, has been increasing in prevalence over the past two decades and affects a disproportionate number of children. According to current estimates, approximately 15–20% of children in the United States and other industrialized countries around the world develop atopic dermatitis in the first few years of life. By comparison, only an estimated 3–5% of adults have an active form of the condition, according to statistics from “Management of atopic dermatitis in the pediatric population,” which was published in Pediatrics in October 2008. Now, a promising new array of therapies targeting different aspects of atopic dermatitis stands to help patients find relief from the physical and emotional pain caused by this complex condition.

Speaking at the 67th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology, dermatologist Lawrence F. Eichenfield, MD, FAAD, professor of pediatrics and medicine (dermatology) at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, reviewed the latest therapies for atopic dermatitis and how the new understanding of the cause of the condition has led to an improved and more targeted treatment approach.

“There has been an abundance of new research looking at genetic abnormalities associated with atopic dermatitis, including those in the skin’s barrier function—or its protective outer layer,” said Dr. Eichenfield. “It appears that a subset of patients with atopic dermatitis and eczema is born with problems with the function of their outer layer of skin, which can cause the skin to be drier and more prone to the absorption of irritants, microbes and allergens that can penetrate the skin and cause adverse reactions. Fortunately, this new understanding is leading to new and better treatments for patients of all ages.”

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