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Cutan Ocul Toxicol. 2012 Jun;31(2):138-43. doi: 10.3109/15569527.2011.618472. Epub 2011 Oct 4.

Irritant contact dermatitis: effect of age.

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University of California, Department of Dermatology, 90, Medical Center Way, Box 0989, San Francisco, CA 94143-0989, USA.


Knowledge on age-relationship to irritant contact dermatitis (ICD) remains of interest. We searched for articles and textbooks on age-relationship to ICD and evaluated relevant data. Irritant response may be enhanced in children and decline with increasing age. In general, older skin reacts more slowly and with less intensity to irritants when compared with young skin. Such age-related changes may depend: (i) on differences in percutaneous penetration in old and young skin, and/or on (ii) differences in the microcirculatory efficiency, which serves as the route by which inflammatory cells make their way to the site of inflammation. Additionally, stratum corneum turnover time increases with age which means that an irritant remains longer on the skin; a compromised cutaneous blood vessel network with ageing may lead to a decreased inflammatory response, decreased absorption and decreased clearance. In conclusion, age-related differences of ICD are present despite some conflicting data. Investigations elucidating this interesting subject may benefit in prevention and intervention strategies.

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