Atopic dermatitis: the new frontier

Victoria R Harris and Alan J Cooper
Med J Aust 2017; 207 (8): . || doi: 10.5694/mja17.00463
Published online: 16 October 2017



  • Atopic dermatitis (AD) is the most common inflammatory skin condition in adults and children.
  • AD is a chronic disease that has a considerable negative impact on the quality of life of patients and their families.
  • Most cases of AD may be effectively treated with topical therapies that are directed at decreasing cutaneous inflammation and alleviating pruritus. These therapies include emollients, antihistamines, topical corticosteroids, topical calcineurin inhibitors and antimicrobial and antiseptic measures; more refractory cases may require additional oral immunosuppression (eg, cyclosporine, azathioprine, methotrexate and mycophenolate).
  • Improved understanding of the immune pathogenesis of AD, including the role of T helper cells and the inflammatory pathways involved, has led to breakthrough translational clinical research and treatment.
  • New targeted immunotherapies, such as inhibitors of interleukin (IL)-4, IL-13, IL-31, Janus associated kinase and phosphodiesterase, have had promising results from phase 2 and 3 trials for patients with moderate to severe AD.


  • Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, NSW

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

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