Air pollution may trigger atopic dermatitis
Atopic dermatitis (also known as atopic eczema) is a common inflammatory skin disease characterized by intense itch. Approximately 20% of children and 3% of adults are affected by this skin disease worldwide, and the number of individuals with it has increased threefold in industrialized nations since the 1970s. Although occurring primarily during childhood, atopic dermatitis has become more common in Chinese adults in recent years, potentially because of interactions between genetic and environment factors.

In this Chinese study, researchers assessed the short-term association between air pollution and hospital visits because of atopic dermatitis. They obtained patients’ records for atopic dermatitis from the Guangzhou Municipal Clinical Center for Dermatology. They further divided up the study population by age and season to assess links in different subgroups.

From 29,972 hospital visits for atopic dermatitis in Guangzhou, China, we found both acute effects and delayed effects of air pollution on hospital visits for this condition. Stronger effects were observed in the cool season, approximately 1.7–3.0 times higher than those in the warm season. Stronger effects were also observed among children, approximately 1.3–1.8 times higher than those among adults.

In conclusion, air pollution might be an important trigger for atopic dermatitis in subtropical Guangzhou, China. Children are more vulnerable than adults and effects are stronger in the cooler season. This result alerts dermatologists to the potential effect of air pollution on atopic dermatitis.