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Researchers may have found why our skin can become itchy and inflamed due to conditions like eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis.
A common bacterium called Staphylococcus aureus sometimes stimulates production of a protein that causes our own cells to react and cause the inflammation, the researchers report.
“Our skin is covered with bacteria as part of our normal skin microbiome and typically serves as a barrier that protects us from infection and inflammation,” says Lloyd Miller, associate professor of dermatology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “However, when that barrier is broken, the increased exposure to certain bacteria really causes problems.”
S. aureus is an important human pathogen, already known as the most common cause of skin infections in people. In the United States, 20 to 30 percent of the population has it living on the skin or in the nose, Miller adds, and over time, up to 85 percent of people come into contact with it.