Introduction Contact dermatitis (CD) is the most common cause of occupational skin diseases, especially in occupations such as nursing, hairdressing, metalworking and construction industry. Environmental exposure and personal susceptibility both contribute to its development.
Methods Recent studies on phenotypic and genotypic factors which might modify risk for irritant- and allergic contact dermatitis (resp. ICD and ACD) will be addressed.
Results Polymorphisims in several candidate genes responsible for skin barrier, immune response and metabolism showed to play a role in individual susceptibility to CD. Next to genetic factors, a history of atopic dermatitis and filaggrin loss-of-function mutations have been confirmed as major risk modifying factors for ICD. Association between atopic dermatitis and filaggrin mutations with ACD is less clear which might at least partly be assigned to differences in study design e.g. choice and definition of phenotype, investigated contact allergens, and population size. E.g. the effect of filaggrin mutations seems to be allergen-specific. Several studies suggested polysensitization as a phenotype for increased susceptibility to ACD.
Discussion Advances in our knowledge on the mechanisms underlying CD initiated a large number of studies searching for candidate genes that might modify the risk for ICD and ACD. Future studies are warranted to investigate whether genetic and phenotypic factors shown to be related to individual susceptibility are specific for a certain skin irritant or contact allergen and further evaluate their suitability in clinical practice.