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17-06-2010 | Dermatology | Article

Pregnancy and menstruation linked to deterioration in eczema symptoms


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MedWire News: A significant number of women with atopic dermatitis (AD) suffer a deterioration in symptoms whilst pregnant or during menstruation, report researchers.

“This suggests the relation of a hormonal influence on the clinical manifestations of AD,” say Kwang Hoon Lee (Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea) and team.

Lee and colleagues report the results of a study of 97 women with atopic dermatitis, aged 23.6 years on average, with an average Eczema Area and Severity Index score of 12.3 and mean serum immunoglobulin E (IgE) of 1007.3 kU/l. The women filled out a questionnaire to determine the prevalence of symptom aggravation during pregnancy and menstruation.

In total, 23 women had experienced at least one pregnancy, 14 (61%) of whom noticed deterioration in symptoms of AD during pregnancy. The other nine women experienced no change in symptoms during pregnancy.

Regarding menstruation, 31 (32%) of the 97 participants noticed aggravation of AD symptoms during this time and 66 noticed no change. Of those who experienced aggravation, 20 (64.5%) experienced mild worsening during their menstruation period and 18 (64%) experienced deterioration about 10 days prior to menstruation.

“Intrinsic atopic dermatitis (IAD) is differentiated from the much more common extrinsic type (EAD) by a total IgE level that is within the normal range, by the lack of specific IgE positivities and by the fact that no immediate skin reaction to environmental allergens or respiratory involvement can be observed,” explain the authors.

They note that women with IAD (n=34) were significantly more likely to have symptom aggravation during pregnancy compared with EAD (n=63) women, but that this difference was not present with regard to menstruation-triggered symptom aggravation.

The researchers caution that their study is limited by “the small number of patients and its retrospective and subjective nature.”

However, they conclude: “Our results suggest that there exist a relation between hormonal influences and the clinical manifestations of AD, and further investigations with larger cohorts are needed to clarify the relationship between sex hormones and AD.”

The results of this study are published in the Annals of Dermatology.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Helen Albert