SummaryBackground Atopic eczema, a multifactorial disease, is influenced by bacterial factors, particularly Staphylococcus aureus. Consequently, treatment includes therapy with antibiotics and nonantibiotic antimicrobials.
Objectives In our study the sensitizing potential of some topical antimicrobials was investigated by comparing proportions sensitized to various antibiotics and antiseptics between patients with current or past atopic eczema, and patients who had never had atopic eczema.
Methods Data of all patients patch tested in the Departments of Dermatology participating in the Information Network of Departments of Dermatology (IVDK) between 1995 and 1999 were analysed. Patients with a current leg ulcer or stasis dermatitis that might cause a confounding effect were excluded.
Results Controlling for the additional confounding effect of sex and particularly age, we did not find that patients with atopic eczema had a generally higher risk compared with nonatopic individuals.
Conclusions While the risk of sensitization should always be considered when applying topical therapy, our data—within the methodological limitations of this type of study—would not support a very restrictive use of these agents in the management of atopic eczema.