Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a chronic, pruritic inflammatory skin disease with increasing incidence characterized by eczematous inflammation of the skin, a chronically relapsing course and severe pruritus. In the last decade, there has been growing evidence indicating that psychological factors such as personality and stress may play an important role in the pathogenesis of AD. While there is only little consensus on an AD-specific personality profile and its etiological significance, a growing number of reports support the role of psychosocial stress in the onset and the course of AD symptomatology. However, although a close association between psychosocial stress and skin condition in AD patients has been demonstrated by several investigators, pathological models that integrate stress and its effect on atopy-relevant biological processes, e.g. immune processes, are still missing. This overview summarizes the role of immunological and psychological factors in AD pathogenesis and discusses potential psychobiological pathways of stress-related modulation of AD symptoms.

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