Atopic dermatitis more common in female patients at age 24

A new Swedish study looked at the prevalence of atopic dermatitis in young adults across the country and found the disease was more prevalent in women than men at age 24.

However, adult onset of atopic dermatitis appeared to be equally prevalent in both sexes in early adulthood.

A recent systematic review reported that the 12-month prevalence of the disease ranged between 1.3% and 22.7%, depending on symptoms. However, knowledge about atopic dermatitis in young adults is limited in Sweden, in addition to knowledge gaps about the course of the disease beyond childhood.

Investigators led by Natalia Ballardini, MD, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, detailed the prevalence and characteristics of atopic dermatitis in young adults from a Swedish birth cohort.

The methods

The BAMSE project was a Stockholm population-based cohort that recruited newborns from 1994 to 1996 and followed them up to age 24. The cohort consisted of 4089 infants, totaling 75% of all eligible subjects.

Questionnaires were completed by parents of eligible patients, boys (2065) and girls (2024), which included questions about background factors. Follow-up questions regarding atopic dermatitis, asthma, and rhinitis were asked of parents and participants aged 1, 2, 4, 8, 12, and 16 years old.

At the age of 24, participants were asked to complete another questionnaire regarding dry skin, itchy skin, affected location, and nocturnal sleep disturbance due to itching. Questions regarding treatments for the disease have also been raised.

After the completion of the 24-year follow-up of the BAMSE cohort in 2019, a total of 3069 participants were included in the study.

Of these participants, those with visible atopic dermatitis were asked to complete the Patient-Oriented Eczema Measure (POEM) to assess the severity of their condition.

A total of 2264 (74%) participated in the clinical examination and IgE sensitization data were available for 2229 (73%) participants.

The results

In the study population, 543 of 3055 individuals (17.8%, 95% CI: 16.4%-19.1%) met the criteria to be classified as having had atopic dermatitis in the past year.

The investigators observed that atopic dermatitis was significantly more common in women than in men (20.5% versus 14.8%, p

Additionally, of those who participated in the clinical examination, 8.0% (95% CI: 6.8% – 9.2%) had ongoing atopic dermatitis (women 8.5%, men 7, 3%, p=0.33).

The majority of participants had lived with their disease in early childhood, with symptoms making their onset at age 2. A history of onset atopic dermatitis was more common in men than in women (69.5% vs. 60.0%, p

Investigators noted that IgE sensitization was less common in women than in men (61.3% vs. 79.6%, p

“Our results demonstrate that, in some aspects, atopic dermatitis differs between men and women and this is important to consider for clinicians treating patients with AD and for future AD studies,” said writes the team.

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