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Giornale Italiano di Dermatologia e Venereologia 2006 December;141(6):507-12

Copyright © 2006 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Is allergic contact dermatitis a lifelong affliction in man? A critical review of the literature

Bonamonte D., Foti C., Angelini G.

Unit of Dermatology I Department of Internal Medicine Immunology and Infectious Diseases University of Bari, Bari, Italy


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The prognosis of allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) refers to its course over time with and without medical intervention. It takes into account the chances of healing, its effect on the quality of life and employment, and the financial costs for both the individual and the wider community. Notoriously, ACD is a disease with a long-lasting and relapsing course; however, at the moment, the long-term prognosis in the general population is unknown. We reviewed the most important epidemiological studies published between the 1950s and 2005, attempting to quantify the natural history of contact allergy. Recent reports appear to indicate that the prognosis of ACD is better than was previously reported; in particular, after the 1990s, the clearance occurs in up to 70% of patients, with an average between 18% and 40%. Sex and age of onset of contact dermatitis do not appear to influence prognosis; on the contrary, a personal history of cutaneous atopy, duration of symptoms before diagnosis, some types of occupations, as well as the ubiquity of contact allergens, appear to be associated with poor prognosis. Prognosis is better in patients who comply with rules of prevention. Most studies indicate that the prognosis is poorer in patients with irritant contact dermatitis than in those with ACD.

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