The prevalence of atopic dermatitis is increasing in industrialized countries for unclear reasons. One theory centers on reduced exposure to microbes during infancy and childhood. Alterations in the epidermal permeability barrier, place certain patients at risk for the immunological dysfunction seen in atopic dermatitis. This review examines current research pertaining to the epidermal permeability barrier, the cutaneous microbiome, and the immunology of atopic dermatitis. New collaborative research has led to evidence-based management guidelines.
Increased skin barrier permeability and dysfunction of innate and adaptive immunity cause atopic dermatitis. Genetic and environmental factors leading to decreased filaggrin underlie many cases of atopic dermatitis. Defective epidermal barrier function allows for an increased density of Staphylococcus aureus and a subsequent shift in adaptive immunity to a type 2 immune response. Multiple evaluation and management guidelines have been published based on current available evidence. These guidelines highlight state of the art management of seven main areas: inflammation, infection, irritation, itch, ichthyosis (dry skin), immunological influences, and impeding (comorbid) conditions.
Pediatricians are central to the successful diagnosis and management of atopic dermatitis. Increased basic and clinical research and well published clinical guidelines will lead to improved outcomes for the patients and families affected by this chronic relapsing disorder.
Department of Surgery (Section of Dermatology), Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Hanover, New Hampshire; Department of Dermatology, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Framingham, Connecticut, USA
Correspondence to James G. Dinulos, MD, Seacoast Dermatology, PLLC, 330 Borthwick Avenue, Suite 303, Portsmouth, NH, USA. Tel: +1 603 431 5205; fax: +603 436 4257; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org