Dermatitis, or skin inflammation, can have many causes and forms.
One form is atopic dermatitis, an immune-mediated skin inflammation where pruritus is the primary symptom and skin lesions can range from mild erythema to severe lichenification, or scaling. It is quite commonly found in children and can pose an increased risk for developing other conditions like asthma. Contact dermatitis is another form caused by irritants or allergens. Common irritants and allergens can be water, detergents, friction, nickel, perfume, or preservatives. Skin lesions range from erythema to blistering and ulceration, occurring where the skin was exposed to the irritant or allergen. Seborrheic dermatitis targets areas that are populated with sebaceous glands such as the face and scalp, causing pruritus and dandruff. Other forms may present skin inflammation as systemic or localized. They may have autoimmune origins, can be due to an infection, or may be secondary to another disease process.
While not contagious or life-threatening, dermatitis can affect quality of life depending on the severity. Treatments are varied, depending on the type of dermatitis and range from avoiding the irritant or allergen to the administration of steroids, emollients, or chemotherapy.
Dermatitis affects one in every five people at some point in their lives. The incidence of dermatitis is high in developed countries, but worldwide, incidence is increasing. In America, there are approximately 31.6 million people with atopic dermatitis, with at least 17.8 million suffering from moderate to severe forms. Three percent of US adults need systemic therapy for moderate to severe atopic dermatitis. Currently, common treatments comprise of moisturizers for milder cases and agents like topical corticosteroids, calcineurin inhibitors, and antimicrobials are used for more moderate to severe cases.
Although there are a variety of treatments, there are large unmet needs for treatment of patients with atopic dermatitis. The reason for this discrepancy is because of an incomplete understanding of the disease. Further research is needed to identify specific causes, as well as develop treatments that can target these specific causes and inhibit chronic inflammation. Atopic dermatitis alone has a global market, and is forecasted to increase from $3.9 billion in 2012 to $5.6 billion in 2022. Incidence is also expected to increase worldwide and as the incidence increases, the present unmet need for effective therapies will increase as well.