Researchers infer that allergy and eczema may go hand in hand, and stress that understanding the connection between the two conditions may mitigate the risk of suffering from the latter.
“It is important for both patients and healthcare professionals to understand the connection between atopic eczema and allergy. Eczema is a common symptom which can be ‘triggered’ by irritants and allergens as well as from a genetic tendency of dry skin. As well as a symptom, it can also be the gateway to allergic sensitisation, so when the body is exposed to that allergen there is a potential for a reaction. Having an accurate and timely diagnosis is important for effective management of eczema and maintaining the skin barrier,” said Amena Warner, Head of Clinical Services at Allergy U.K., in a article in Express.co.uk.
Eczema or atopic dermatitis is considered as one of the most common skin diseases to date. The condition is characterized by red, itchy rash that often occur in the cheeks, arms and legs. Eczema typically begins in infancy, around the first six months. The disease is often accompanied by asthma or hay fever. People who have a family history of these diseases are found to have increased risk of developing eczema; between 50 to 70 percent of children with eczema are sensitized to at least one allergen. (Related: Learn more about your body by reading the articles at Cures.news).
Previous research link allergy, eczema onset
Two faulty skin barriers that fail to stave off allergens may play a role in the development of eczema, according to a 2010 study. According to researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center, the skin acts as a protective barrier that keeps certain allergens, pollutants, and irritants from affecting the body. It has been previously established that the skin’s upper-most layer, known as the stratum corneum, was faulty in eczema patients. However, the research team found that a second skin layer, composed of cell-to-cell connections known as tight junctions, was also defective.
As part of the study, the researchers examined skin samples from eczema patients and healthy individuals. The research team found that a particular tight junction protein called claudin-1 was significantly reduced in these patients, but not in healthy controls. The protein was also known to determine the strength and permeability of the skin. “Since claudin-1 was only reduced in eczema patients, and not the other controls, it may prove to be a new susceptibility gene in this disease. Our hypothesis is that reduced claudin-1 may enhance the reactivity to environmental antigens and lead to greater allergen sensitization and susceptibility in people with eczema,” said study author Dr. Anna De Benedetto in an informative release in URMC.Rochester.edu.
The findings suggest that strengthening both faulty skin barriers may help boost eczema treatment in patients, the researchers wrote in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
Eczema rates in the U.S.
According to the National Eczema Association (NEA), a substantial number of Americans have symptoms associated with eczema. The organization also revealed that 31.6 million people in the U.S. currently suffer from eczema, while at least 17.8 million have moderate to severe eczema or atopic dermatitis. More than 10 percent of children in the U.S. suffer from eczema or atopic dermatitis, the NEA stated.
A recent study also found that more than 10 percent of American adults have the condition. This suggests that the skin condition may persist from childhood to adulthood, the organization stressed. The NEA also revealed that three percent of American adults with eczema or atopic dermatitis require a systematic treatment to address the skin disease. According to the organization, this figure was higher compared with those who suffer from psoriasis.
Incomplete understanding of the disease might play a role in this discrepancy, the NEA stated.