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Does Air Pollution Cause Atopic Dermatitis?


A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology examined the potential relationship between air pollution and the incidence of atopic dermatitis.

A retrospective cohort study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology investigated the relationship between air pullulation and the atopic dermatitis (AD).

Currently, there is little evidence to determine whether AD can be caused by exposure to air pollutants, such as gases and particle matter.

The researchers used the National Health Insurance Service-National Sample Cohort data base to find patients diagnosed with AD from the from the general population with no previous history of the disease from 2008 to 2013.

There were 209,168 patients included in the study data and the long-term average concentration of air pollutants before diagnosis was calculated for each individual. The results found for 1,030,324 person-years, there was AD observed in 3203 patients. 

According to the authors, there was a significant positive association between the incidence rate of AD and the long-term average concentration of the following:

  • Particulate matter smaller than 2.5 μm in diameter (hazard ratio [HR], 1.420; 95% CI, 1.392-1.448; for 1 μg/m3)
  • Particulate matter smaller than 10 μm in diameter (HR, 1.333, 95% CI, 1.325-1.341; for 1 μg/m3)
  • Sulfur dioxide (HR, 1.626; 95% CI, 1.559-1.695; for 1 parts per billion)
  • Nitrogen dioxide (HR, 1.200; 95% CI, 1.187-1.212; for 1 parts per billion)
  • Carbon monoxide (HR, 1.005; 95% CI, 1.004-1.005; for 1 parts per billion) 

These findings were determined after adjusting for age, sex, income, comorbid diseases, and meteorologic variables.

The authors concluded that long-term exposure to air pollutants is an independent risk factor for AD.

Air pollutants are not the only cause being researched, to watch our video series on how climate change may affect the dermatology field, click here.


1. Park SK, Kim JS, Seo H-M. Exposure to air pollution and incidence of atopic dermatitis in the general population: A national population-based retrospective cohort study. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2021;0(0). doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2021.05.061

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