Background  Atopic dermatitis (AD) and loss-of-function mutations in the filaggrin gene (FLG) are both associated with chronic irritant contact dermatitis (ICD). As FLG mutations also are a major risk factor for AD, it is not clear whether FLG mutations are an independent risk factor for ICD or whether the risk is mediated by AD.

Objectives  To investigate the relative contribution and interaction of FLG mutations and AD in German patients with occupational ICD and controls (vocational school apprentices).

Methods  A total of 634 patients and 393 controls were genotyped for R501X, 2282del4, R2447X and S3247X. Current or past flexural eczema was used as an indicator of AD.

Results  FLG mutations were found in 15·9% of the patients with ICD and 8·3% of the controls, with a crude odds ratio (OR) of 2·09 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1·33–3·28] for the combined genotype. The adjusted OR for FLG mutations, corrected for AD, was 1·62 (95% CI 1·01–2·58). Subjects with AD were at approximately three times higher risk of developing ICD than controls (OR 2·89; 95% CI 2·09–3·99). There was no evidence of an interaction between these two risk factors.

Conclusions  Our results indicate that both FLG mutations and AD increase the risk of ICD. Individuals with concurrent FLG mutations and AD are at the highest risk of developing ICD.