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Abstract

Objective This prospective study sought to determine the bacterial colonization rates on eczematous and non-eczematous skin and nasal mucosa of patients with atopic dermatitis

Patients Patients, of any age, presenting with atopic dermatitis at the subsidized clinic of the National Skin Centre, Singapore, between 23 August 1996 and 14 September 1996, were included in the study.

Results Thirty-three patients with atopic dermatitis were seen at the outpatient clinic during the study period. Staphylococcus aureus was isolated in 69.7% of the eczematous lesions and in 42.4% of non-eczematous skin of patients with atopic dermatitis. S. aureus was isolated in 53% of patients with mild dermatitis, and in 100% with moderate and severe dermatitis. The nasal carriage rate of S. aureus was higher in atopic dermatitis patients (51.5%) than in non-atopies (35%) (not significant). S. aureus was isolated in 42% of noneczematous skin in atopies compared with only 5% in the control group (p= 0.003). In patients with atopic dermatitis, all S. aureus isolated was sensitive to cloxacillin, cephalexin, clindamycin, and co-trimoxazole; 92% was sensitive to erythromycin, but only 13% was sensitive to penicillin and ampicillin. In the control group, all S. aureus isolated was sensitive to cloxacillin, cephalexin, erythromycin, clindamycin, and co-trimoxazole, but only 13% was sensitive to penicillin and ampicillin, and 87% to tetracycline.

Conclusions This study confirmed that the skin of patients with atopic dermatitis was more frequently colonized with S. aureus than that of non-atopics. The more severe the dermatitis, the higher the rate of colonization. S. aureus is also more often present in non-eczematous skin of atopics than of non-atopics. There is also a higher percentage of S. aureus nasal carriage in patient's with atopic dermatitis than in non-atopics. Hence antibiotics may have a role in the treatment of atopic dermatitis. Because 87% of S. aureus is resistant to penicillin and ampicillin, antibiotics such as cloxacillin and cephalexin should be used to eradicate S. aureus in the skin of atopic dermatitis individuals.