including allergic rhinitis and asthma, according to Douglas W. Kress, MD, of the department of dermatology at the University of Pittsburgh.
Recent studies suggest that atopic dermatitis (AD) affects 10%-17% of the U.S. population, and 80%-90% of patients are diagnosed by the age of 5 years, Dr. Kress said in a presentation at Skin Disease Education Foundation’s Women’s & Pediatric Dermatology Seminar.
“There seem to be multiple pathways, which initiate and perpetuate the cutaneous inflammation of AD including exposure to allergens, irritants, and physical trauma, infection, stress, extremes in temperature and humidity,”said. In addition, foods and airborne allergens may trigger AD.
Many parents may believe that certain factors are associated with AD, but most of these perceptions are not supported by evidence, said Dr. Kress, who is also chief of the division of pediatric dermatology at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. AD appears to be a disorder of T cell dysregulation dominated by Th2 lesions in acute cases and Th1 inflammation in patients with chronic lesions.
No associations have been proven between the development of AD in the first 18 months of life and any maternal dietary restrictions, according to a recent Cochrane review, nor is there evidence for an association between AD and the introduction of solid foods, exposure to fish oil, or exposure to animals at a young age, he said. In addition, a study published in 2016 showed a lack of evidence to support the use of specific allergen immunotherapy for AD.
However, evidence does support an association between the presence of AD in children and certain other conditions, Dr. Kress said. “Other associations include an increased incidence of alopecia areata, a threefold increase in autism spectrum disorders, and a twofold increase in ADHD in children with atopic dermatitis.”
The only known food allergy linked to AD severity is egg whites; reducing egg white exposure has been shown to improve AD in children with both conditions, he noted.
Although many patients with AD experience annoying but relatively mild symptoms, health care providers should be alert to the potential for infections, particularly with Staphylococcus aureus, and remember that an active egg white allergy has been associated with staphylococcal superantigen sensitization, said Dr. Kress. The increased risk for S. aureus in children with AD may stem from a tendency to underuse antibiotics in AD children, which results in a delayed treatment until the infection becomes overt. In addition, the increased pH in patients with AD might promote the development of pathogenic strains of staph. However, ceramide-based moisturizers could help inhibit these strains by increasing skin acidity.
For patients who have poor AD control with standard therapy, antibiotics may be used as adjunctive therapy. “Consider bleach baths and/or staph decolonization with mupirocin, both of which led to significant improvement in eczema severity compared to placebo,” Dr. Kress said. “Bleach may also have an anti-inflammatory effect.”
Dr. Kress disclosed relationships with Pfizer, Amgen, and Sanofi/Regeneron. SDEF and this news organization are owned by Frontline Medical Communications.