Skin surface enzyme activities were found to be significantly different in healthy and in skin with atopic dermatitis and, following appropriate treatment, a close correlation was observed between the clinical staging of the atopic dermatitis and the levels of the assayed marker enzymes. Samples were taken, by stripping with simple adhesive tapes, from a group of subjects on cure in a spa. The corneocytes were recovered from the first layers of the stratum corneum. Aqueous extracts of the strips were tested for their activity on chromophoric substrates which allow fluorescence spectrometry to be used to assay the trypsin-like, acid-phosphatase-like and phospholipase-A2-like activities. We show that the restoration of return to activities close to those of healthy subjects is related to the general condition of the patients, who showed a clearly improved SCORAD. Recovery of the trypsin-like activity and attenuation of the phospholipase-like activity, paralleled the regression of the dermatitis as assessed by a decrease in clinically evaluated parameters of xerosis and inflammation.

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