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Allergy. 1992 Aug;47(4 Pt 1):265-9.

Atopic eczema: role of microorganisms on the skin surface.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, Universit├Ąts-Krankenhaus Eppendorf, University of Hamburg, Germany.


The pathophysiology of atopic eczema (AE) is still poorly understood. One possible concept favors IgE-mediated reactivity towards allergens that enter the skin from the outside or through the blood. Microorganisms of the cutaneous flora also might represent a stimulus for allergic skin reactions. Abnormal bacterial skin colonization is a characteristic feature of AE. Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is the most common pathogen. Binding to host cells involves special receptors, such as fibronectin or laminin. Specific IgE antibodies to S. aureus can be detected in the blood. Whereas the clinical relevance of anti-staphylococcal antibodies is still controversial, specific IgE antibodies to Pityrosporum species as well as positive type I prick test reactions to these yeasts seem to correlate with the intensity of eczematous lesions in the head and neck regions of patients with AE. Both antimicrobial and antifungal treatment has been shown helpful in some cases of AE.

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