From: Reuters
Published February 28, 2008 01:22 PM

Dust mites, roaches can weaken skin barrier: study

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Dust mites and cockroach allergens can weaken defense mechanisms of the human skin, making it more permeable and vulnerable, a study in South Korea has found.

In an article in the latest issue of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, researchers said it was important, especially for people with eczema, to protect themselves from such microscopic bugs and filth.

Cockroach allergens are particles of feces, saliva and other matter found on the bodies of these insects.

In the study, the researchers disrupted the skin barrier function of a group of volunteers by repeatedly sticking cellophane tape on a part of their forearm and then stripping it off. They were then exposed to roach allergens and dust mites.

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These particles were later found to have triggered a receptor in the skin, known as PAR-2, which delayed the skin repair process.

"The skin barrier function is already damaged in eczema patients and it has to repair itself. But allergens like dust mite and cockroach allergens will delay the repair function," said Jeong Se Kyoo, senior researcher at Neopharm Co. Ltd.

"Then more allergens will penetrate the skin, it's a vicious cycle," he said in a telephone interview.

Over 15 million Americans suffer from eczema, a chronic skin condition characterized by dry patches of very itchy skin. The most common form, atopic dermatitis, affects between 10 and 20 percent of the world's population at some point during childhood.

(Reporting by Tan Ee Lyn; Editing by Sugita Katyal)

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