Atopic Dermatitis in Adults

Licia Zeppa; Veronica Bellini; Paolo Lisi


Dermatitis. 2011;22(1):40-46. 

In This Article


Adult-onset AD is an important subtype of AD, especially in young adults. As with children and adolescents, diagnosis is generally clinical because there are no specific laboratory markers. The clinical diagnosis includes features such as pruritus, a chronic or chronically relapsing course, typical morphology and distribution of lesions, personal or family history of asthma, and allergic rhinoconjunctivitis. Nevertheless, AD can sometimes have a different morphology (ie, a nummular, prurigo-like, or seborrheic dermatitis–like morphology) and can occur with normal levels of total and allergen-specific serum immunoglobulin E in about a third of cases. Adult AD is mainly mild to moderate, but it is severe in 15.7% of our patients. In such cases, or when the lesions are localized on the hands, the social and economic implications are very important.

Finally, it has been reported that aeroallergens likely play an eliciting role when the lesions are localized on air-exposed surfaces, especially if the patient is symptom free on clothes-covered areas and if skin symptoms deteriorate during pollen season, or when the patient works in dusty workplaces or among animals.[38] However, our data on the localization sites of adult AD (see Table 5) are not in agreement because there was no more facial involvement in the IAD than there was in the EAD.


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