Eczema more prevalent among older adults than previously thought

1. The results of this study suggested that the prevalence of atopic dermatitis increased with age among a U.K. adult primary care population.

2. The rates of active eczema were found to be highest among children and older adults.

Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)

Study Rundown: Atopic dermatitis, more commonly known as eczema, is frequently seen in children who have a constellation of allergic symptoms, such as allergic rhinitis, eczema and asthma. Despite the higher prevalence of atopic dermatitis in youth compared to adults, epidemiologic evidence suggests that this disorder can occur throughout life. The purpose of this study was to estimate the age-specific prevalence of active atopic dermatitis across the lifespan of a large primary care population. The authors found that the rates of this condition increased with age among adults in primary care. One of the main strengths of the study was the size of the study population, where a total of 8 604 333 persons were included from The Health Improvement Network – a U.K. database cohort. However, as the study did not include other populations from different regions of the world or with different baseline rates of asthma among children, this study may not be generalizable to all populations.

Click to read the study in Annals of Internal Medicine

Relevant Reading: Atopic dermatitis in older adults: A viewpoint from geriatric dermatology

In-Depth [retrospective cohort]: The authors analyzed data from the U.K. cohort from 1994 to 2013, observing a cumulative lifetime prevalence of atopic dermatitis of 9.9% among the study population. Some of the study end points included prevalence of active disease requiring a physician visit or prescription, as well as identifying patients with atopic dermatitis based on a previously validated algorithm. The authors observed that the rates of active disease were highest among children and older adults. Specifically, the mean prevalence in a given year for children aged 0-17 years was 12.3% and for adults aged 75-99 years was 8.7%. In contrast, adults aged 18-74 years only had a prevalence of 5.1%. The total median prescriptions for eczema during the year was 6 (interquartile range 2 to 13 prescriptions).

Image: PD

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