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Can we prevent atopic dermatitis?

The 76th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology brought together dermatologists and healthcare professionals in dermatology-related specialities from around the world. An interesting question was raised – of particular interest in general practice – as to whether we can prevent atopic dermatitis.

Atopic dermatitis affects 25 per cent of the paediatric population and 10 per cent of the adult population, but there is currently no cure. Prevention is critically important because the condition has significant negative affects for many children and their families.

Impaired barrier function is a major factor in atopic dermatitis, but filaggrin deficiency doesn’t seem to be a factor in early childhood atopic dermatitis. Daily use of an emollient from the neonatal period significantly reduces the likelihood of developing the condition, and may also reduce the likelihood of developing food allergies.

Topical corticosteroids are still the foundation of treatment. Using topical corticosteroids during acute flares (and maintenance use two to three times weekly between flares) is beneficial for children with severe symptoms.

Topical corticosteroid phobia is still an issue. Advances in topical non-corticosteroid treatments
include crisaborole (PDE-4 inhibitor), tofacitinib (JAK-inhibitor) and tapinarof (hydrocarbon receptor
activator), widening the armament against atopic dermatitis.

Read more research on preventing skin conditions.


Paller, A. (February 2018.) Can we prevent atopic dermatitis? 76th American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) Annual Meeting 2018 Conference Review. Page 1.

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