If you’re among the 30 million Americans who suffer from eczema, you probably wouldn’t consider yourself lucky. But new research might convince you that you haven’t been completely cursed when it comes to your skin. In fact, it might give you one reason to actually be thankful for your itchy scratchy condition.Research by King’s College London has found that a compromised skin barrier—which is responsible for the excessive dryness and unbearable itch that are characteristic of this chronic condition—might actually reduce your risk of developing skin cancer.The study, done on mice, found that those lacking important skin barrier proteins were six times less likely to develop cancer compared to mice with normal, healthy skin barriers. Although all of the mice were equally susceptible to acquiring cancer-causing mutations, those with the eczema-like inflammatory reaction shed more potentially cancerous skin cells, which researchers say could have been key in preventing tumors from growing.Previous studies have suggested that allergic conditions, like eczema, are associated with a reduced risk of skin cancer, but since eczema symptoms vary greatly from person to person, it’s difficult to draw sweeping conclusions on the potential connection. This study is the first to show that the allergic reaction caused by the defective skin barrier could actually protect the skin.”We are excited by our findings as they establish a clear link between cancer susceptibility and an allergic skin condition in our experimental model,” says Professor Fiona Watt, Director of the Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine. They also give further evidence that immune system modification may be an effective way to treat cancer.And for those of you cursing your itchy skin: “I hope our study provides some small consolation to eczema sufferers—that this uncomfortable skin condition may actually be beneficial in some circumstances.”MORE: How to Treat Eczema