Early in the process of developing an allergy, skin exposure to food allergens contributes to sensitization, which means the skin becomes reactive to antigens, especially, by repeated exposure, the results showed.

"The peanut protein responsible for most allergic reactions in humans is seen as foreign or dangerous by the immune system of the skin," informed Cecilia Berin, associate professor of pediatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital here.

Blocking those immune pathways activated in the skin prevented the development of peanut allergy in the mice, and our next step will be to confirm this in humans, he explained.

The findings suggest that skin exposure to food allergens contributes to sensitisation to foods early in life.It also helps us understand why peanut, out of the many foods in our diet, is such a common cause of food allergy.

Past studies have shown that children may first become allergic when exposed to peanut proteins through breast milk or in house dust.

The current findings add skin exposure to the list of culprits that make a child allergic by the first time they taste a peanut.

"If we identify how the immune system recognises peanut as a danger, we may eventually learn how to block that pathway and prevent the food allergy altogether," researchers concluded.

The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

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