The body’s own natural defences could be harnessed in a potential therapy for a common skin condition, a new study suggests. The discovery may help create new treatments for atopic eczema, the condition causes distressing itchy lesions that can lead to broken skin with increased susceptibility to infection. It can have a severe impact on people’s lives, work and sleep, researchers said. The discovery follows recent studies that show having an intact natural skin barrier is important in preventing eczema. Now, researchers at the University of Edinburgh in the UK have found a way to use the body’s own defence system to repair tiny breaks in the skin’s natural barrier, which make people more vulnerable to eczema. “This is a great chance to work with something that the body makes naturally to develop new therapies for atopic eczema, which affects so many people’s lives,” said Dr Donald J Davidson from Edinburgh’s MRC Centre for Inflammation Research. The skin’s barrier can be impaired by genetic flaws, environmental factors or bacterial infections. People with eczema are much more likely to carry bacteria known as Staphylococcus aureus on their skins. In people with eczema, this bacteria can infect skin lesions and cause damage to the skin barrier.