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The impact of allergy on atopic eczema from data from epidemiological studies

Schäfer, Torsten

Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology: October 2008 - Volume 8 - Issue 5 - p 418–422
doi: 10.1097/ACI.0b013e32830e71a7
Skin allergy: Edited by Torsten Zuberbier and Thomas Werfel

Purpose of review We aimed to review the association between atopic eczema and allergic sensitization and food allergy and its determinants on the basis of current epidemiological literature.

Recent findings About 50% of children with atopic eczema and about 35% of adults are sensitized to common allergens. Gender, geography (e.g. East and West Germany), and socioeconomic factors determine the proportion of atopic eczema with allergic sensitization. Allergic sensitization in addition to atopic eczema obviously increases the risk for respiratory allergies. Sensitization to house dust mites seems to be important and clinically relevant for atopic eczema. Population-based studies on the association between food allergy and atopic eczema are limited. Although, up to 40% of children in hospital settings react to certain food allergens by a flare-up of their atopic eczema, there is an indication that on a population basis, adults with atopic eczema do only react occasionally with a worsening of their skin disease due to food allergens.

Summary Atopic eczema is not necessarily associated with allergic sensitization. Sensitization to house dust mites, however, seems to be clinically relevant. The impact of food allergy on atopic eczema is difficult to assess on the basis of epidemiological studies and more detailed studies are needed.

Institute of Social Medicine, Lübeck University, Lübeck, Germany

Correspondence to Professor Torsten Schäfer, MPH, Scharbeutzer Straße 23, 23684 Scharbeutz, Germany E-mail:

Copyright © 2008 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.