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Keywords:

  • allergic contact dermatitis;
  • atopic dermatitis;
  • contact sensitization;
  • pathogenesis;
  • skin sensitivity

Abstract

Atopic dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis are both common skin diseases having an immune pathogenesis. There has been considerable interest about their inter-relationships with regard to altered susceptibility. Recent investigations have shed new light on this important question, and in this article, we explore whether there is evidence that atopic dermatitis affects the risk of contact sensitization and allergic contact dermatitis. The use of topical products to treat xerotic and inflamed skin in atopic dermatitis often results in a higher prevalence of sensitization to, for example, fragrances and other ingredients in emollients. Moreover, the prevalence of metal allergy seems to be increased, probably due to compromised chelation of the metals in the stratum corneum of patients with atopic dermatitis. However, conversely, the T-helper cell 2 bias that characterizes immune responses in atopic dermatitis appears to lower the risk of contact sensitization compared to healthy controls. Based on these observations, we conclude that multiple factors affect the association between atopic dermatitis and contact sensitization, and that these need to be appreciated in the clinical management of atopic dermatitis patients.