In their lab, the researchers made extracts of household dust mites and cockroach allergens. They tested the dust mite extract on six healthy adults who didn't have eczema.
To mimic eczema's damaging effect on skin, participants got tape peeled off their forearm skin several times. Then the researchers applied a bit of the dust mite extract to the skin and saw how long the skin took to heal from the tape damage.
Their skin was weaker for the first three hours after the allergen was applied. That effect faded within a few more hours.
The researchers also conducted a similar experiment on mice exposed to dust mite and cockroach allergens. The mice's skin healed slower after exposure to the allergens.
Lastly, the researchers used an experimental drug to block an enzyme called PAR-2. That helped damaged skin heal faster despite the presence of dust mite or cockroach allergens.
The researchers included Se Kyoo Jeong of Yonsei University College of Medicine in Seoul, South Korea.
Their study appears in today's online edition of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.
By Miranda Hitti
Reviewed by Louise Chang
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