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Contact Dermatitis. 1994 Nov;31(5):281-7.

The modulation of skin irritation.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, University of Pavia, IRCCS Policlinico S. Matteo, Italy.


Irritant contact dermatitis (ICD) is a multifactorial disease, the onset and modulation of which depend on both endogenous and exogenous factors. Among the former, age, race, site, sex and history of dermatitis may all be important. Such variables can now readily be quantified by objective noninvasive techniques, such as measurement of transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Moreover, effects of irritants on the epidermis are related to the particular chemical properties of each molecule, contributing further to clinical heterogeneity. Release of cytokines and mediators may be initiated by a number of cells, including living keratinocytes and those of the stratum corneum, thus modulating inflammation and repair. Furthermore, differences in mechanisms of inflammation between acute and chronic ICD may exist, the former being characterized predominantly by inflammation, the latter by hyperproliferation and transient hyperkeratosis. These findings may explain the complexity and difficulty of investigating ICD. Better understanding and quantification of these mechanisms may lead to identification of high-risk individuals and more effective prevention and treatment.

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