Volunteer for allergic diseases clinical trials
Atopic dermatitis (AD), also known as eczema, is a chronic condition of the skin that affects an estimated 9 to 30 percent of people in the United States.
The symptoms of AD include dry, itchy skin that can become swollen and cracked and can weep clear fluid when scratched. People with AD experience cycles of worsening symptoms followed by periods of improvement. They also have an increased susceptibility to certain skin infections.
Although the specific causes of AD are unknown, it is thought to occur from a combination of genetic, immunologic, and environmental factors.
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AD is closely associated with other allergic diseases, including food allergy, asthma, and allergic rhinitis (hay fever). Children whose parents have asthma and allergies are more likely to develop AD than children of parents without allergic diseases. Approximately 30 percent of children with AD have food allergies, and many develop asthma or respiratory allergies. People who live in cities or drier climates also appear more likely to develop AD.
A major health risk associated with AD is skin colonization or infection by bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus. Sixty to 90 percent of individuals with AD are likely to have some staph bacteria on their skin and many eventually develop infection, which worsens the AD. Antibiotic-resistant strains of S. aureus, notably methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA),are a significant public health concern, especially for patients with AD.
People with AD are highly vulnerable to viral infections of the skin. When people with AD are infected with herpes simplex virus, a subset of this population develops a severe and widely disseminated skin infection called atopic dermatitis with eczema herpeticum (ADEH).
People with AD should not receive the smallpox vaccine, even if their AD is in remission, because they are at risk for developing a severe and widely disseminated infection called eczema vaccinatum (EV). EV is caused when the live attenuated vaccinia virus in the vaccine reproduces and spreads throughout the body.
People who live with a person with AD or a history of AD should not receive the smallpox vaccine because of the risk that they will transmit the vaccinia virus. For this reason, between 11 and 34 percent of the population of the United States may be ineligible for smallpox vaccination.
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NIAID established the Atopic Dermatitis and Vaccinia Network (ADVN) in 2004 to better understand why some people with AD are at a high risk for EV. The ADVN was renewed as the Atopic Dermatitis Research Network (ADRN) in 2010, with expanded goals to understand immune system responses to viral and bacterial skin infections in healthy individuals and in people with AD.
ADRN examines the following:
Learn more about the ADRN.
NIAID-funded investigators have taken important first steps toward understanding differences in the ability of the skin to protect against infections in people with and without AD. Their research has shown the following:
ADRN investigators are working on several projects that include the following:
Last Updated September 19, 2011
Last Reviewed August 29, 2011