Filaggrin (short for Filament Aggregation Protein) is the new buzzword for eczema sufferers.
To explain it scientifically, it is a protein that binds keratin fibers in epithelial cells according to Wikipedia. Without it, your stratum corneum is damaged — exposing your epidermis to allergens. Proteins are long chains of linked amino acids.
It is responsible for the biology function in human that create the skin barrier to retain moisture within the skin. Without it, your skin becomes a “leaky skin barrier”, the layers and the skin structure become vulnerable, damaged, and unable to retain moisture.
In biological terms, it is epidermal homeostasis – which means the ability of your skin to regulate itself.
In layman’s term, it is carries the extremely important duty of protecting and keeping your skin in a healthy condition.
The reason for filaggrin’s propulsion to popularity is that recent researches and studies has found evidence indicating there is a gene that influences how much filaggrin a human would produce. Unfortunately for us, there is also a certain mutation that actually cause the lack of filaggrin to be produced.
Genes control gene epression which in genetics – means whether certain genes are activated and perform their functions. Genetics is incredibly complex, but the general idea here is the Filaggrin is not produced enough.
No filaggrin means your skin loses its frontline defence, exposing your body to allergens and weakening your immune system. It also means allergens have a higher chance to trigger an aberrant immune response, leading to further rashes and wrecking havoc on your epidermal homeostasis.
Filaggrin deficiency can possibly the leading cause to certain diseases like dry skin, asthma, and eczema.
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How does it relate to eczema?
Filaggrin is an essential protein that holds your skin cells together.
Without it, your skin loses its ability to retain moisture as the skin becomes damaged from external factors. As a result, your skin becomes easily damaged and dry over time in comparison to a healthy skin.
In response to the damage and bacteria to a massive open wound, your skin responds with fierce red rashes ad ugly bumps.
Sounds like eczema.
In fact, it was found out that over 50% of severe eczema sufferers have the genes that causes filaggrin deficiency — making it one of the leading causes that contributes to eczema breakouts.
This switches the whole perspective eczema around because it was originally it was believed that eczema is simply an allergic reaction. Instead, with the findings of filaggrin, it means that allergies is actually a symptom of a much deeper problem.
How do I know if I am filaggrin deficient?
At the moment, there is no known way to diagnose filaggrin deficiency in a cost efficient manner.
If you are low on filaggrin, it will also cause other problems outside of your skin. One of the common problems caused by the lack of filaggrin is having symptoms of asthma.
So if you have asthma, eczema, or even a weaker immune system, the likelihood of it being filaggrin deficiency is high, as these are all problems linked with abberant immune response.
You could also always discuss with your dermatologist about the possibility of it.
What can I do about it?
As of the time of this article, gene therapy remains a far away treatment option, most of it is still highly experimental. Because the origins of Filaggrin deficiency is genetic, there is no means to directly address the problem yet.
HOWEVER, there is something that can be done thats extremely important:
We need an Eczema protocol that constantly restores the skin barrier that is weakened by Filaggrin deficiency. This means regularly applying heavy grade emollients, that penetrate deeply into skin. Many coconut creams are good for this, it is important to have a good moisturiser and a good emollient.
Avene’s Trixera Cream for Skin Barrier is an recommened effective way to maintain a strong skin barrier in opposition to constant Filaggrin deficiency.
Having a strong and robust skin barrier often completely prevents Eczema outbreaks that are usually caused by drying and cracking which leads to scratching and then bacteria getting etched into the fissures of the skin
This changes the perception to how eczema should be managed.
While there is no way to increase your natural filaggrin level currently, there are other ways to combat the symptoms of this problem. Namely, if you are filaggrin deficient, you should consider ways to protect your skin from the exposure to pollutions and allergies in the air.
Here are the few things you can do to make sure your skin is protected:
- Avoid using soap, shampoo, or any harsh abrasive cleaners that will dry your skin out after wash. Use moisturizers and cream-based cleansers instead.
- Make sure to use emollients to replenish the lipid on your skin to prevent any further dehydration on your skin.
- Make sure to use plenty of skin barrier repairing cream such as Avene Trixera.
- Wear gloves and masks during any household cleaning activities to avoid exposure to dust and harsh detergents being used.
While filaggrin deficiency gives us a new insight to what causes eczema, it is still important to maintain a healthy diet that will minimize your eczema outbreaks. In the end, it is controlling your diet and getting into the habit of protecting your skin that will make remarkable differences to your eczema.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16550169 (50% rate to severe eczema sufferer)