Atopic dermatitis is a multifactorial, chronic relapsing, inflammatory disease, characterized by xerosis, eczematous lesions, and pruritus. The latter usually leads to an "itch-scratch" cycle that may compromise the epidermal barrier. Skin barrier abnormalities in atopic dermatitis may result from mutations in the gene encoding for filaggrin, which plays an important role in the formation of cornified cytosol. Barrier abnormalities render the skin more permeable to irritants, allergens, and microorganisms. Treatment of atopic dermatitis must be directed to control the itching, suppress the inflammation, and restore the skin barrier. Emollients, both creams and ointments, improve the barrier function of stratum corneum by providing it with water and lipids. Studies on atopic dermatitis and barrier repair treatment show that adequate lipid replacement therapy reduces the inflammation and restores epidermal function. Efforts directed to develop immunomodulators that interfere with cytokine-induced skin barrier dysfunction, provide a promising strategy for treatment of atopic dermatitis. Moreover, an impressive proliferation of more than 80 clinical studies focusing on topical treatments in atopic dermatitis led to growing expectations for better therapies.
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