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Dermatology. 2003;206(4):398-400.

Framing the future of antifungals in atopic dermatitis.

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  • 1Department of Dermatopathology, University Medical Center of Liège, Belgium.


Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a frequent chronic inflammatory skin disease. Some fungal colonization or infection of the skin may exacerbate AD severity, particularly the so-called head and neck variant. In addition, excessive intestinal colonization by Candida albicans may represent an additional triggering factor. Hence, there is a rationale to use antifungals in selected AD patients. Early trials with topical ketoconazole in head and neck AD showed a decrease in Malassezia colonization, but no significant improvement was observed in the clinical severity. In contrast, clinical improvement and decreased serum IgE were obtained in patients with positive Malassezia radioallergosorbent tests (RASTs) who were treated by oral ketoconazole. Some preliminary data suggested that oral itraconazole treatment in AD patients reduced the need for topical corticosteroids, provided clinical improvement particularly in head and neck AD, reduced the cutaneous and intestinal fungal colonization that may trigger AD, reduced the percentage of positive Malassezia cultures and demonstrated a decrease in C. albicans and Malassezia RAST values. Furthermore, beside its antifungal action, itraconazole in part relieves pruritus and inflammation. In conclusion, oral itraconazole treatment can alleviate AD severity in selected patients. Fluconazole is also effective. Further research is warranted to identify whether the load in skin surface fungal agents, the fungal RAST values and specific prick testing should be assessed in order to optimize the antifungal management in AD patients.

Copyright 2003 S. Karger AG, Basel

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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