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The epidermal barrier is a crucial component of the defensive function of the skin. The main skin protective functions are related to water loss modulation/prevention, UV-protection, anti-oxidant and antimicrobial actions. It is well established that epidermal barrier function is abnormal in subjects suffering from atopic dermatitis. Several evidences have shown that this alteration could be considered as the initial pathogenic factor starting the pathological process of atopic dermatitis. The aim of this review was to discuss the role of topical modulation in the epidermal barrier function and antimicrobial peptides in atopic dermatitis.
The use of emollients has shown to reduce the risk of atopic dermatitis flares and to reduce the need for topical corticosteroid. New emollient and moisturizing products seem promising not only in controlling symptoms and signs of atopic dermatitis but also in improving the skin barrier functions acting specifically in the ceramide component and in normalising antimicrobial peptides production of keratynocites.