Adult atopic eczema and the risk of dementia: A population-based cohort study

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2022 Aug;87(2):314-322. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2022.03.049. Epub 2022 Mar 31.


Background: Chronic inflammatory conditions have been linked to dementia, but little is known about the role of atopic eczema, an inflammatory condition recently recognized to be common among older adults.

Objective: To determine whether active atopic eczema is associated with incident dementia.

Methods: A longitudinal cohort study of 1,767,667 individuals aged 60 to 99 years registered with The Health Improvement Network, a primary care cohort in the United Kingdom. The diagnoses of atopic eczema and dementia were identified using medical record codes.

Results: The incidence of dementia was 57 per 10,000 person-years among those with atopic eczema during follow-up (12.1% of the population) compared with 44 per 10,000 person-years in the control group. This translated to a 27% increased risk of dementia (hazard ratio, 1.27; 95% CI, 1.23-1.30) in adjusted Cox proportional hazard models. Similar associations were observed in subgroup analyses of vascular dementia and Alzheimer's disease. The association persisted after additionally adjusting for the use of systemic corticosteroids (hazard ratio, 1.29; 95% CI, 1.26-1.33) and potential mediators (hazard ratio, 1.19; 95% CI, 1.16-1.22). More severe eczema was associated with a higher risk of dementia.

Limitations: Lack of detailed data on severity.

Conclusion: Atopic eczema was associated with a small but increased risk of incident dementia. The association increased with the severity of atopic eczema.

Keywords: Alzheimer disease; The Health Improvement Network; atopic eczema; atopic eczema severity; cohort; dementia; older adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease* / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dermatitis, Atopic* / complications
  • Dermatitis, Atopic* / epidemiology
  • Eczema* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Longitudinal Studies