A Look at Allergies and Atopic Dermatitis

Researchers believe that the dysfunction in skin barrier seen in atopic dermatitis leads to an increased sensitivity to allergens. What are allergens you might ask!? An allergen is a substance that causes an allergic reaction in the body. Typically, allergens are also triggers for atopic dermatitis. The particular allergens that cause a reaction in people with AD may differ from person to person and not everyone with atopic dermatitis will have allergens that trigger their AD. Some common allergens that may trigger an AD flare-up include pet dander, molds, dust mites, pollens and certain foods.1

In healthy skin, the barrier provides adequate protection against germs and environmental allergens, but in people with AD, the barrier is compromised, providing an opening for these germs and allergens to enter the body. The immune system in AD is also dysfunctional, creating more of an inflammatory and allergic response.2

How do your allergies compare?

Two thirds of participants to our Atopic Dermatitis In America survey reported having allergies in addition to their atopic dermatitis. Dust and pollen were the most common allergies that respondents reported being allergic to. Here is a look at some of the other allergies reported, see where you compare!

  • 80% of respondents who had allergies were allergic to dust
  • 76% of respondents who had allergies were allergic to pollen
  • 68% of respondents who had allergies were allergic to animal dander
  • 66% of respondents who had allergies were allergic to mold
  • 45% of respondents who had allergies were allergic to a medication(s)


While many of the allergies that participants experienced were environmental in nature there were also allergies that may also be considered irritants. Atopic dermatitis (AD) damages the skin’s natural barrier, which can make it more sensitive to substances in the environment. These are collectively called irritants because of their ability to irritate the skin. Irritants may cause additional redness, itchiness, or a burning sensation. Common irritants are reflected in the data below.

  • 33% of respondents who had allergies were allergic to wool
  • 29% of respondents who had allergies were allergic to nickel
  • 29% of respondents who had allergies were allergic to latex
  • 27% of respondents who had allergies were allergic to insect stings
  • 24% of respondents who had allergies were allergic to fish/seafood

  • 23% of respondents who had allergies were allergic to milk/dairy
  • 19% of respondents who had allergies were allergic to nuts/peanuts
  • 17% of respondents who had allergies were allergic to wheat
  • 14% of respondents who had allergies were allergic to eggs
  • 10% of respondents who had allergies were allergic to soy

Other allergies that survey participants specified they were allergic to were avocado, fragrances, grasses, and trees.

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View References
  1. Peterson JD, Chan LS. A comprehensive management guide for atopic dermatitis. Dermatology Nursing. 2006;18(6):531-542. Accessed online on 4/5/17 at http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/551352_5.
  2. Flohr C, Mann J. New insights into the epidemiology of childhood atopic dermatitis. Allergy. 2014;69:3-16.

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