We may think of our immune system as being just the antibodies and white blood cells that protect us from germs but there’s a lot more to it than that. Many researchers focus on small parts of the immune system that are particularly relevant to EB. This can be specific cells that are involved in wound healing or inflammation or specific proteins that tell different cells what to do when skin damage occurs. Researchers might first need to carefully look at what is going on before they can even think of ways to help with symptoms.

White blood cells (lots of different types with lots of different names!) are outnumbered in our blood by the red blood cells that have a different job of carrying oxygen and carbon dioxide around our bodies. As well as making antibodies and killing germs, white blood cells are involved in an important process in EB called inflammation.

Inflammation is what happens when our skin is damaged. We see swelling and redness and feel pain, warmth and itching. White blood cells are carried to the wound and stick there where some will become macrophages and help to protect the damaged area. Inflammation shouldn’t go on for longer than it needs to and should reduce over a day or two and lead to wound healing. In EB, inflammation can be ‘chronic’ rather than ‘acute’ meaning that it carries on after it has stopped being useful and may become a cause of symptoms rather than helping with healing.


How does the immune system work?