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Ever since Professor Irwin McLean’s group discovered the role of genetic mutation in atopic eczema, much research has started on the targeted treatments. The deficiency of the Filament Aggregating Protein leads to classic cases of winter skin dryness and eczema. The lack of this protein does not allow the outermost layer of our skin to mature into tough corneocytes.

The cause is not external

Environmental conditions and allergens alone cannot cause atopic eczema. It is a result of individual loss-of-function type mutations at the genetic level. Most people have at least one such mutated gene that increases our chances of getting the disease. However, some people inherit several copies of the mutated genes from both the parents. They cannot produce functional Filaggrin proteins on cell surfaces. They do not have fully functional skin barriers. They develop or are extremely likely to develop atopic eczema during their lifetime.

The trigger is external

Some environmental factors including smoke, pollutants in the air, hard water, soap, and makeup can trigger the beginning of the disease. This begins to the breakdown of an existing barrier that is already frail. Continuous exposure to these irritants and allergens can exacerbate your skin condition even further. That is why all dermatologists recommend the use of emollients to seal the skin barrier (at least temporarily).

More researchers are relating this protein deficiency to extensive food allergies and cat allergies in people as well. Another interesting research shows that exposure to dogs in early life can prevent the development of atopic eczema in an individual.

Eczema does not always mean faulty genes

Not every person with eczema has genetic mutations. Only about 56% of the affected individuals are a victim of this loss-of-function mutation. Only about 15% of the people with mild to moderate eczema have this mutation in their genome. No routine tests exist, which can tell a person if he has loss-of-function mutations. Right now, it is still in the clinical trial stages. It will likely be available for the standard population as well as a useful diagnostic tool. This will make the detection of eczema and the determination of other allergies much easier for any dermatological expert too.

Can you cure Filaggrin-dependent eczema?

If you have eczema, there is no way of telling if you have these mutations. About 10% of the US population has some reduction in production of Filament Aggregating Protein. Unless you have no working copies of the gene, your eczema is treatable and controllable. For complete loss of function mutations, people have severe itchy skin, persistent dryness and swollen redness all over their body. This is Ichthyosis Vulgaris. Secondary bacterial infections often accompany such severe cases due to the absence of cell barriers.

A reminder to control

Heritable genetic mutation is not the only reason for eczema and allergies in people. Sadly, if your eczema is a result of inherited mutations, you can only control the symptoms. No matter how worse it gets, you can always use the right products, be very careful about your moisturizing agents and wear protective covering during the day’s work.


Author Bio: Mandy Bular is a blogger and eczema expert. She has been researching on eczema for the last ten years. If there's anything you need to know about eczema, ask