Measures directed at improving the skin barrier function are thought to be effective in preventing reexacerbation of atopic dermatitis, but direct proof of a prophylactic effect of emollients has been elusive. In the present study, the atopy patch test has been employed as a model for the initiation phase of atopic dermatitis in order to assess whether pretreatment of non-lesional skin with a fatty acid-rich emollient (Eucerin® Omega Creme) has a prophylactic effect in patients with atopic dermatitis. Pretreatment of test sites with Eucerin® Omega Creme either prevented or diminished the development of eczema, as compared with untreated control test sites in the same patients (n = 38). These studies indicate that the use of fatty acid-rich emollients prevents the development of atopic eczema. They also demonstrate that the atopy patch test can be used to assess the capacity of a given regimen to exert prophylactic effects in this disease.

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