Does climate change affect the incidence of skin and allergic diseases in Germany?

J Dtsch Dermatol Ges. 2008 Aug;6(8):632-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1610-0387.2008.06676.x. Epub 2008 Apr 9.
[Article in English, German]


Background: Skin diseases have great socio-economic importance in Germany due to their high and in some cases still-increasing prevalence. Little attention has yet been paid to the influence of the change in climate on these diseases.

Objective: Clarify the evidence of the effects of climate change on the prevalence of skin diseases and allergies in Germany.

Methods: First, a theoretical model of the possible mechanisms and influence factors of climate and weather was created for different disease groups (skin malignancies, allergies, skin infections). Then, a systematic online and manual literature search was made for model-derived key words.The relevant publications were selected and evaluated according to a priori criteria.

Results: From a total of n = 31,221 hits, n = 320 publications remained for evaluation.Changes in the following parameters can be regarded as essential climatologic factors influencing the prevalence of skin and allergic diseases: temperature, UV radiation, precipitation/humidity, cloudiness, and general weather conditions.There were only a few original articles addressed to this topic. Most of them address recurring phenomena (especially levels of airborne pollen), UV radiation or ozone (and the ozone hole). Quantitative statements, prognosis models and climate scenarios have not yet been published for Germany with respect to skin diseases.

Conclusion: Only few scientific articles on the relationship between climate changes and the prevalence of skin diseases have been published. They do not allow a reliable statement on future developments. The outlook for changes in prevalence requires further clarification using published climate models.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Climate*
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Hypersensitivity / epidemiology*
  • Incidence
  • Risk Assessment / methods*
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin Diseases / epidemiology*