Eczema Patients More Sensitive To Irritating Effects Of Hard Water

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Danby

Dr. Danby

Dr. Simon G. Danby, PhD
Independent Research Fellow
Sheffield Dermatology Research,
Department of Infection & Immunity & Cardiovascular Disease,
Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry & Healthy,
University of Sheffield
UK 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Living in a hard water area has been widely associated with a higher risk of developing atopic eczema, a chronic skin condition characterized by an intensely itchy red rash, however the reasons for this association were unclear. We therefore conducted a study to determine how hard water contributes to the development of this condition.

We found that exposing the skin to hard water damages the skin barrier – which is our defense against outside threats such as bacteria or sun burn – and increases the sensitivity of the skin to potentially irritant surfactants found in everyday wash products. This is because hard water contains high levels of calcium and magnesium ions that bind to surfactants, such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES), making them insoluble so that they precipitate onto the skin.

Hard water also has a high alkalinity, meaning that it can help raise skin surface pH, so that it becomes more alkaline. Skin pH is normally acidic, and a shift towards alkaline pH disturbs the skins natural function as a physical barrier and leaves it prone to colonization by potentially pathogenic bacteria. By damaging the skin barrier, washing with hard water may contribute to the development of atopic eczema.

Importantly, patients with eczema were much more sensitive to the effects of hard water than people with healthy skin. This increase in sensitivity was associated with a genetic predisposition to a skin barrier defect brought about by mutations in the gene encoding filaggrin (FLG loss-of-function mutations). Filaggrin is a structural protein important for the formation of our skin’s barrier to the outside environment. Up to half of people with eczema carry a filaggrin gene. This new study illustrates the mechanism by which calcium and magnesium ions in hard water, surfactants and filaggrin interact to damage the skin barrier.

We report that removing the calcium and magnesium ions using an ion-exchange water softener could mitigate the negative effects of hard water on the skin. The implication is that using a water softener could help reduce the incidence of eczema by reducing the harmful effects of covert irritants in everyday wash products.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: That the way we care for our skin, including the products and the water we use, has a significant impact on the health of our skin. Further research is needed to identify the best approach to caring for our skin from birth.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: We are now embarking on a pilot trial to investigate whether installation of a domestic water softener around the time of birth can prevent skin barrier breakdown and eczema in those living in hard water areas.

The Softened Water for Eczema Prevention (SOFTER) trial will be undertaken by Dr Flohr and his team from King’s College London and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre at Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in collaboration with the University of Sheffield team and colleagues from the University of Dundee, the Centre of Evidence-Based Dermatology at Nottingham University, Imperial College London, the National Institute for Health (Bethesda, USA), and Amsterdam Medical Centre. 

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: The study was funded by Harvey Water Softeners

The paper, The Effect of Water Hardness on Surfactant Deposition Following Washing and Subsequent Skin Irritation in Atopic Dermatitis Patients and Healthy Controls, is published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. DOI: 10.10.16/j.jid2017.08.037

To keep up to date with news from the Sheffield Dermatology Research group follow us on twitter @Shef_Derm

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation:

The Effect of Water Hardness on Surfactant Deposition Following Washing and Subsequent Skin Irritation in Atopic Dermatitis Patients and Healthy Controls
Danby SG1, Brown K2, Wigley AM3, Chittock J4, Pyae PK5, Flohr C6, Cork MJ7.
J Invest Dermatol. 2017 Sep 12. pii: S0022-202X(17)32938-X. doi: 10.1016/j.jid.2017.08.037. [Epub ahead of print]

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions. 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Does Some Eczema Persist Into Adulthood?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Katrina Abuabara MD, MA, MSCE University of California San Francisco

Dr. Abuabara

Dr. Katrina Abuabara MD, MA, MSCE
University of California San Francisco

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Atopic dermatitis (synonymous with atopic eczema or just “eczema”) is a common and burdensome condition that often presents in childhood but can occur in individuals of any age. It is episodic, meaning that it waxes and wanes over time, and many patients will have periods without signs or symptoms of the disease. Conventional wisdom suggests that “most children” improve by adolescence, but prior studies have not had sufficiently frequent follow-up to detect episodic disease beyond childhood.

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Vitamin D Supplements Will Probably Not Help Asthma or Atopic Dermatitis

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Brent Richards, MD, MSc</strong> Associate Professor of Medicine William Dawson Scholar / FRQS Clinical Research Scholar Departments of Medicine, Human Genetics, Epidemiology and Biostatistics McGill University Senior Lecturer, King's College London (Honorary)

Dr. Brent Richards

Brent Richards, MD, MSc
Associate Professor of Medicine
William Dawson Scholar / FRQS Clinical Research Scholar
Departments of Medicine, Human Genetics, Epidemiology and Biostatistics McGill University
Senior Lecturer, King’s College London (Honorary)

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Some previous epidemiological studies have suggested that low vitamin D levels are associated with increased rates of asthma, atopic dermatitis—an itchy inflammation of the skin—and elevated levels of IgE, an immune molecule linked to atopic disease (allergies). In our study, we looked at genetic and health data on more than 100,000 individuals from previous large studies to determine whether genetic alterations that are associated with vitamin D levels predispose people to the aforementioned conditions.

We found no statistically significant difference between rates of asthma (including childhood-onset asthma), atopic dermatitis, or IgE levels in people with and without any of the four genetic changes associated with lower levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D, the form of vitamin D routinely measured in the blood.

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Gene Involved in Defective Skin Barrier and Eczema and Ichthyosis Identified

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Akio Kihara, PhD. Laboratory of Biochemistry Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Hokkaido University Sapporo, Japan

Dr. Akio Kihara

Akio Kihara, PhD.
Laboratory of Biochemistry
Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Hokkaido University
Sapporo, Japan

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The skin barrier is the most powerful defensive mechanism terrestrial animals possess against pathogens and harmful substances such as allergens and pollutants. Recent studies indicate that lipids play a central role in skin barrier formation. Multi-lamellar structures consisting of lipids are formed extracellularly in the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of epidermis, and their high hydrophobicity prevents the invasion of external pathogens and compounds.

The stratum corneum-specific lipid acylceramide is especially important for skin barrier formation. Decreases in acylceramide levels are associated with cutaneous disorders such as ichthyosis and atopic dermatitis. However, the mechanism behind acylceramide production is poorly understood, especially regarding the last step of acylceramide production: i.e., esterification of ω-hydroxyceramide with linoleic acid. This means that the broader picture of the molecular mechanisms behind skin barrier formation still remained unclear.

Although PNPLA1 has been identified as an ichthyosis-causative gene, its function in skin barrier formation remains unresolved. In the present study, we revealed that PNPLA1 catalyzes the last step of acylceramide synthesis. Our finding completes our knowledge of the entire pathway of the acylceramide production, providing important insights into the molecular mechanisms of skin barrier formation.

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Safer Immunotherapy Dupilumab (Dupixent) FDA Approved For Atopic Dermatitis

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Emma Guttman, MD, PhD Professor, Dermatology, Medicine and Clinical Immunology Vice Chair of Research in the Dermatology Department Director of the center for Excellence  Eczema in the Occupational/Contact Dermatitis clinic  Director of the Laboratory of Inflammatory Skin Diseases Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center New York

Dr. Guttman

Emma Guttman, MD, PhD
Professor, Dermatology, Medicine and Clinical Immunology
Vice Chair of Research in the Dermatology Department
Director of the center for Excellence
Eczema in the Occupational/Contact Dermatitis clinic
Director of the Laboratory of Inflammatory Skin Diseases
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center
New York

MedicalResearch.com: Would you briefly explain what is meant by atopic dermatitis? How many people are affected by this disorder?

Response: Atopic dermatitis or eczema as most people know it is an itchy red scaly skin disorder characterized by a very severe itch, that disrupts daily activities, and sleep and severely impairs the quality of life of patients. In the US 30 million people are affected by it, and 1/3 of these we expect to be moderate to severe.

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for Dupilumab therapy? How does it differ from emollients, steroids or topical immunomodulator treatments for eczema ie Protopic?

Response: The background is that we currently do not have good treatments for long term use for our moderate to severe patients. The only approved drug by the FDA for atopic dermatitis in the US is oral prednisone, that has many long term side effects and causes disease rebound upon discontinuation. Other treatments with many side effects

are broad immune suppressants–Cyclopsorin A, Mycophenolate mofetyl and phototherapy that is not feasible for most patients.

Thus there is a large unmet need for safer and better treatments for moderate to severe atopic dermatitis patients.

Dupilumab is different since it only targets one immune axis–Th2 axis, providing a safer alternative, with high efficacy, that is equal or even better than cyclosporin A, that is the current gold standard immune suppressant, and harbors many side effects including permanent effects on the kidneys after long term use. Topical treatments, while useful for mild patients, are often not adequate or sufficient to control moderate to severe patients that usually have more than 10% body surface area involved and need a systemic treatment.

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Moisturizers Reduce Severity of Eczema

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Esther van Zuuren

Dr. Esther van Zuuren

Esther van Zuuren MD
on behalf of the authors
Department of Dermatology
Leiden University Medical Center
Leiden, Netherlands

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: In view of the high prevalence of eczema and the exponential increase in number of clinical trials over recent years, the NIHR designated this clinical topic, emollients and moisturisers for eczema, as a high priority. Widely prescribed as the basis of eczema management the treatment strategy is often supported by a mixed array of reviews and guidelines. Evidence for the effectiveness of emollients and moisturisers is also of variable quality.

Eczema is a chronic skin disorder, the main symptoms being dry skin and intense itching with a significant impact on quality of life. As dry skin is an important feature, moisturisers are a cornerstone of eczema treatment, but there was uncertainty about their efficacy and whether one moisturiser is preferable to another. The main finding of our review is that indeed moisturisers are effective.

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Moisturizers Are Cost-Effective Mainstay of Eczema Treatment

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Steve Xu MD, MSc Resident Physician Department of Dermatology Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine

Dr. Steve Xu

Steve Xu MD, MSc
Resident Physician
Department of Dermatology
Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Given the limited data on the effectiveness or safety of the different moisturizers examined in the study, how much do you think parents should decide what to use on their babies based on the “cost-effectiveness” determined in this study? Would you just say cheapest is best since we don’t know how well these things work? Or what’s the message?

Price. Petrolatum is an extremely effective moisturizer. It also happens to be one of the most affordable. Unlike adults, I don’t suspect newborns will complain too much about the greasiness of petrolatum. They’re less concerned that their work clothes will get ruined. They are less likely to care about cosmetic elegance.

I also will say that petrolatum is less likely to include any artificial fragrances, preservatives that could serve as irritants or allergens in the future. That’s an added bonus.

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Protein Found To Enhance Ability To Kill MRSA

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Warren Leonard, M.D. NIH Distinguished Investigator Laboratory of Molecular Immunology NHLBI, NIH

Dr. Warren Leonard

Warren Leonard, M.D.
NIH Distinguished Investigator
Laboratory of Molecular Immunology
NHLBI, NIH

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: TSLP is a cytokine that has been well studied in the context of T cell helper type 2 (TH2) responses and the promotion of atopic diseases. TSLP is naturally expressed at barrier surfaces, such as the skin; however, its role in skin infections was not previously explored.

In our study, we investigated whether TSLP plays a role in host defense to Staphylococcus aureus skin infections, using the most common strain of methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) present in the United States.

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10-Year Mortality Risk Raised With Atopic Dermatitis, But Lower Than Psoriasis

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Alexander Egeberg, MD PhD National Allergy Research Centre, Departments of Dermato-Allergology and Cardiology Herlev and Gentofte University Hospital, University of Copenhagen Hellerup, Denmark

Dr. Alexander Egeberg

Alexander Egeberg, MD PhD
Gentofte Hospital
Department of Dermatology and Allergy
Hellerup Denmark

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: In recent years, numerous studies have examined the impact of psoriasis and associated comorbidities, and found a reduced lifespan in particular among patients with severe disease. However, little is known about the impact and burden of adults with atopic dermatitis. We looked at the 10-year survival among patients hospitalized for atopic dermatitis, and compared these with patients hospitalized for psoriasis, as well as with subjects from the general population.

Our main finding was that, although the mortality risk was higher for atopic dermatitis compared with general population control subjects, the risk was significantly lower compared with psoriasis patients.

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Vitamin B3 in Pregnancy and Atopic Dermatitis in Childhood

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr Sarah El-Heis MBBS, MRCP (London)
Clinical Research Fellow
MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit
University of Southampton
Southampton General Hospital
Southampton

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Atopic eczema is a common, multifactorial and potentially distressing skin condition. Evidence that it partly originates in utero is increasing with some studies suggesting links with aspects of maternal diet during pregnancy.

Nicotinamide is a naturally occurring nutrient that is maintained through the dietary intakes of vitamin B3 and tryptophan. As a topical treatment it has been used in the management of some skin conditions including atopic eczema, and has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, to stabilise mast cells and to alter lipids in the outer layers of the skin.

The objective of our study was to examine the link between maternal serum concentrations of nicotinamide and related tryptophan metabolites to the risk of atopic eczema in the offspring.

We found that maternal late pregnancy concentrations of nicotinamide and related metabolite concentrations were not associated with offspring atopic eczema at age 6 months. Higher maternal serum concentrations of nicotinamide and anthranilic acid were, however, associated with a 30% lower risk of eczema at age 12 months.

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