Regarding genetic predisposition, in 60-80% of cases there is a family history of atopic dermatitis.
The presence of a genetic component is supported by studies showing that the risk of a child developing atopic dermatitis is increased if one or both parents have the condition. In addition, the risk for developing the disease if one or both parents have asthma or allergic rhinitis is higher than in the general population.

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In patients with atopic dermatitis, a wide range of immunological and non-immunological abnormalities have been reported both at skin level and in serum.

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External factors in atopic dermatitis

The prevalence of allergic disorders has increased over the past decades. The cause of this rapid increase cannot be explained by changes in population genetics, which is why environmental factors are considered to be a possible explanation.
In Japan, Australia and some European countries, the number of atopic patients has doubled or tripled in the last 10–20 years. Some causes include:


air pollution, mostly through intense road traffic;

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increasing the standard of hygiene, “hygiene hypothesis”, but also increasing the aggression on the skin with detergents and soaps. Excessive bathing of babies, use of inappropriate cosmetics with harsh ingredients.

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accumulating more and more allergens at home through changes in the cohabitation (presence of mites, cats, dogs);


smoking among young mothers, which is on the rise;

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chemical nutritional additives;


changing food behaviour by introducing new foods (especially exotic fruits, peanuts, etc.). Early diversification of diet seems to increase the frequency of atopic dermatitis;

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less exposure to infections

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respiratory infections and dental eruption can trigger atopic dermatitis in babies and young children.

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for all ages, stimuli susceptible to cause the hypersecretion of sweat (excitement, heat, exercise, occlusion with clothing or ointments) may lead to violent itching and a new spurt of atopic dermatitis. Contact with wool and lipid solvents aggravates atopic dermatitis. Sometimes menstruation and pregnancy have an unfavourable effect. Although some food allergens can trigger or exacerbate atopic dermatitis, an excessively restrictive diet can affect height and weight development in children.

Key elements to remember:

  • identifying the factors involved in atopic dermatitis is an important step in the primary prevention of this condition, certain factors, particularly environmental ones, can be influenced;
  • control of irritant factors (detergents, cosmetics soaps, chemicals, pollutants, abrasive materials, extreme temperatures and humidity);
  • emollients should be used after bathing;
  • avoiding and prompt treatment of over-infection.