Researchers at Oregon State University have found the genetic cause of atopic dermatitis, a form of eczema which is commonly seen in infants and also affects many adults, according to Medical Xpress.

According to the research at OSU, eczema is caused due to insufficiency of Ctip2, a vital protein and an essential regulator. Two different ways have been discovered which may impact the functionality of Ctip2 leading to eczema. Previously it was found that Ctip2 controls lipid biosynthesis in the skin that keeps the skin healthy and hydrated. A new study shows that Ctip2 restrains TSLP, a cytokine which is produced by the skin cells that causes inflammation, explains a report in Medical Xpress.

"In these studies, we've basically shown that inadequate Ctip2 is reducing the lipids in skin that it needs to stay healthy, protect itself and perform its function," said Arup Indra, an associate professor in the OSU College of Pharmacy, according to Medical Xpress. "At the same time this can allow unwanted formation of proteins that trigger inflammation. The skin's ability to resist inflammation is going down just as the amount of inflammation is going up, and the underlying reason is that Ctip2 is not doing its job."

"Either or both of these problems can lead to eczema," Indra said.

Currently the treatments include moisturizers to protect skin and in extreme cases steroids are used too which comes with certain side effects. Indra hopes that these new findings give a better understanding of the cause of the disease and have more effective treatments.

"With a better understanding of just what is causing eczema on a genetic basis, we should be able to personalize treatments, determine exactly what each person needs, and develop new therapies," Indra said in a report by Medical Xpress. "This might be with topical compounds that increase Ctip2 expression in skin cells, or customized treatments to restore an individual person's lipid profile. In the future, systemic epigenetic modification might even be possible."

Eczema common in infants can be due to any food allergens. At certain stages this is treated as they grow, but in few cases the allergy persists through their entire life.

"Our skin is the largest organ in the human body and one of the most important," Indra said. "It's our first barrier of defense, is in a constant battle against external insults, is influenced by both genetics and the environment, and has to be finely tuned to do many jobs. In eczema, this process begins to break down."

This study is published online scientific journal PLoS ONE.