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01-10-2009 | Dermatology | Article

Bacterial infection found in nearly half of hand eczema patients


Free abstract

MedWire News: Nearly half of all patients with hand eczema (HE) may be infected with Staphylococcus aureus, a study indicates.

Patients with HE were six times more likely to carry the bacterium than other individuals, and its presence was associated with the severity of the skin condition.

The researchers say: “The high frequency of S. aureus in patients with HE and the relationship to eczema severity indicate that S. aureus could be an important cofactor for persistence of the disease.”

The Danish team, led by Pia Haslund from the University of Copenhagen, recruited 50 patients with HE and 50 control individuals without major skin diseases into the study.

Bacterial hand and nose swabs were initially taken in all HE patients, with 40 returning for a second visit a median of 30 days later, and 25 for a third visit a median of 180 days after this.

S. aureus was initially found on the hands in 48% of HE patients but just 8% of control participants, and was significantly related to increased severity of the eczema.

Of patients available for evaluation on subsequent visits, 90% were still carriers of S. aureus on visit two and 30% of carriers at the first visit remained so at visit three.

In all cases, patients carried identical S. aureus types on the hands and nasally, and in 88% of cases identical subtypes of bacterium were found in the same patient at different visits.

Ten different clonal complexes types were identified, and there was no increased frequency of toxin-producing strains in patients compared with control participants.

Reporting in the British Journal of Dermatology, the researchers conclude: “Future studies, including intervention with antibiotics, are necessary to conclude if S. aureus is a cause or a consequence of HE.”

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a part of Springer Science+Business Media. © Current Medicine Group Ltd; 2009

By Anita Wilkinson