Skin

29 February 2008

Cockroaches can harm skin

Dust mites and cockroach allergens can weaken defence mechanisms of the human skin, making it more permeable and vulnerable, a study in South Korea has found.

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Dust mites and cockroach allergens can weaken defence mechanisms of the human skin, making it more permeable and vulnerable, a study in South Korea has found.

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

Cockroach allergens are particles of faeces, 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.

Delays skin repair
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.

Eczema is a chronic skin condition characterised 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. – (Reuters Health)

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Skin Centre

February 2008

 

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Dr Suretha Kannenberg holds a degree in Medicine and a Masters in Dermatology from the University of Stellenbosch. She is employed as a consultant dermatologist by Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Academic Hospital, where she is involved in clinical duties and the training of medical students and dermatology residents. Her areas of interest and research include vitiligo, eczema and acne. She also performs limited private practice work in the Northern suburbs of Cape Town in general and cosmetic dermatology.

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