Atopic dermatitis may be more common in adults than previously thought

Published Online: October 7, 2013

Atopic Dermatitis (AD), also known as atopic eczema, is a chronic skin condition that is a significant cause of morbidity and public health burden. AD has been shown to affect one in ten children in the US, but little is known about the impact of AD in adults or its contributing factors.

In a study recently published in The Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology (JACI), Drs. Silverberg and Hanifin studied the prevalence of AD and associated factors using data from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey, a study of 27,157 adults from all 50 states in the US.

Eczema occurred in 10.2% of US adults and 3.2% had eczema with asthma and/or hay fever. Adults with eczema had higher rates of asthma than those without eczema, with more asthma attacks in the past year and more persistent asthma. Adult eczema was associated with older age, female gender, Hispanic ethnicity, higher level of household education, and being currently employed. Eczema was less likely to occur in foreign born American adults compared with US-born Americans, but the risk of eczema increased after 10 or more years of residence in the US. This was true for birthplace in any region outside the US.

This study provides the first US population-based estimates of eczema prevalence and asthma associations in adults. The results suggest that AD is more common in adults than previously recognized. The US prevalence of adult eczema appears to be influenced by birthplace and multiple demographic and socioeconomic factors.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI) is an official scientific journal of the AAAAI, and is the most-cited journal in the field of allergy and clinical immunology.

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