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Climate Change Can Worsen Eczema Condition

Researchers from the University of Climate change can worsen eczema condition esearchers from the University of California San Francisco are reporting on 10 climate-related hazards that may have a negative impact on eczema. Their study was recently published in the journal Allergy. The scientists also created maps showing the past, present, and future projected burden of eczema relative to climatic hazards, highlighting areas where research is still needed. For years, scientists have been studying how the effects caused by climate change may impact health.

Previous studies show climatic effects such as extreme heat can increase a person’s risk for kidney and death due to cardiovascular disease. In addition, air pollution from things such as smog and wildfires can impact the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. Many of the effects of climate change also have the potential to lead to mental health issues. Now, researchers from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) have found hazards created by climate change can also negatively affect the chronic skin condition atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema. Atopic dermatitis usually develops in early childhood and is more common in people who have a family history of the condition.

The main symptom is a rash that typically appears on the arms and behind the knees, but can also appear anywhere. Treatment includes avoiding soap and other irritants. Certain creams or ointments may also provide relief from the itching. For this study, researchers focused on how 10 climate hazards related to green- house gas emissions impact atopic dermatitis. These climate hazards included global warming, heat waves, wildfires, drought, floods, and rising sea levels. “We’ve known for a long time that atopic dermatitis is particularly sensitive to environmental factors, but there was not a clear consensus on how the increasing prevalence of climatic hazards due to climate change might impact atopic dermatitis.

Therefore, we set out to review the literature through a systematic search and provide a narrative summary,” Dr. Katrina Abuabara, an associate professor of dermatology at the UCSF School of Medicine and a senior author of this study, explained. “For many patients with atopic dermatitis, the unpredictability of disease flares can be particularly challenging,” Abuabara explained. “Understanding how climatic factors impact disease could lead to better strategies to address disease triggers. For this study, Abuabara and her team analysed data from 18 studies providing evidence for the aggravation of eczema by one of the 10 identified climatic hazards.

Overall, researchers said there was evidence linking most climate-related hazards to aggravation of atopic dermatitis. Some were direct effects, such as particulate matter from wildfires. Others were indirect effects such as drought-induced food insecurity, poverty, and subsequent migration that could disrupt regular healthcare and cause stress that could impact a person’s eczema. “The maps from 2005 and 2017 show that there is overlap between geographic areas with more exposure to climatic hazards and increased prevalence of atopic dermatitis,” Abuabara said.

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