What is the role of contact irritants in the etiology of pediatric atopic dermatitis (AD)?

Updated: Jun 03, 2020
  • Author: Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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Answer

Contact irritants (eg, soaps, solvents, wool clothing, mechanical irritants, detergents, preservatives, perfumes) compromise the integument, creating inflammation, irritation, and a portal of entry for further environmental insult. These surface irritants, along with the macerative effects of sweating and the drying effects of low humidity, lower the pruritic threshold. A vicious cycle of itching and scratching ensues, in which added cutaneous damage caused by scratching further lowers the pruritic threshold and subsequently causes increased itching.


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