Do temperature changes cause eczema flares? An English cohort study

Jonathan P Chan*, Stephanie J MacNeill, Beth Stuart, Y. T. Eunice Lo, Amanda Roberts , Daniel M. Mitchell, Matthew J Ridd

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background
It is unclear if ambient temperature changes affect eczema. It is also unclear if people with worse disease are more susceptible to weather-related flares, or specific types of emollient offer protection. Substantiating these links may help inform action plans and patients self-management.

Objective
To investigate the effect of short-term temperature variations on eczema symptoms in children.

Methods
Data from a UK cohort of 519 children (6 months-12 years) with at least mild eczema, participating in a randomised trial comparing four types of emollients on eczema symptoms, were combined with observed temperature data from the Hadley Centre’s Integrated Surface Database.

Hot & cold weeks were defined by average regional temperature >75th or
Results
The baseline mean age was 4.9 years (SD 3.2) and POEM score was 9.2 (SD 5.5), indicating moderate eczema. 90% of participants lived within 20 km of their nearest weather station. From the 519 participants there were 6,796 consecutively paired POEMs and 1,082 flares.

Seasonal variation in POEM scores was observed, suggesting symptoms worsening with colder weather in winter and improving with warmer weather in summer. Odds ratios of flares were: 1.15 (p = 0.136, 95%CI 0.96-1.39) in cold weeks, 0.85 (p = 0.045, 95%CI 0.72-1.00) in hot weeks. Likelihood ratio test showed no evidence of this differing by disease severity (p = 0.53) or emollient type used (p = 0.55).

Conclusions
Our findings are consistent with previous studies demonstrating either improvements in eczema symptoms or reduced flares in hot weather. Worse disease and different emollient types did not increase susceptibility or provide protection against temperature changes. Further work should investigate the role of sunlight, humidity, air pollution and other environmental factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1012-1018
Number of pages7
JournalClinical and Experimental Dermatology
Volume48
Issue number9
Early online date2 May 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2023

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