A study shows that people with eczema have low levels of the natural substances that fight off skin infection.
The skin is under attack all the time from bacteria, yeast and fungi from the outside world. One of its major defences is the natural production of anti-microbial substances called peptides.
A team in Washington DC, have just shown how the skin of people with eczema differs in this respect.
They analysed levels of peptides on the skin of six adults with no skin condition, eight with eczema, and 11 with psoriasis, another skin condition, which produces red scaly patches on the skin. Levels of the peptides were high in those with psoriasis, which is what you would expect as a response to a skin disease, where there’s an ever present risk of infection.
But peptide levels were equally low in those with healthy skin and those with eczema. In health, the peptides don’t need to be present in high amounts, because they are only needed when infection threatens. The fact they are not there in eczema – where infection is common – suggests an immune defect, say the researchers. It may be that the conventional steroid treatment for eczema somehow undermines the immune system – which suggests new approaches to eczema treatment are needed - By Geoff Michaels at newsfix
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