The problem of atopic eczema : aetiological clues from the environment and lifestyles

N. J. MCNALLY, David Rosser PHILLIPS, H. C. WILLIAMS

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)

47 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Atopic eczema is the most common inflammatory skin disease in children, affecting around 10% of children in the developed world. It can be a distressing condition, influencing children's well-being, personal and educational development, and family life, and it has huge economic implications for health services and individual budgets. Like other atopic diseases such as asthma and hay fever, the prevalence of atopic eczema has increased substantially over the last 30 years, for reasons largely unknown. Although a genetic predisposition to the disease has been implicated, evidence from a range of sources suggests that environmental factors play a crucial role in the disease expression. This paper reviews the epidemiology of atopic eczema, with particular attention to potential environmental aetiological factors and draws evidence from studies in the UK and internationally. First, atopic eczema has been found to vary socially and to be more prevalent in the UK among social class I and II families than among other socio-economic groups. Second, it has been suggested that cross infection from other siblings in large families may have a protective role in atopic disease expression. Third, it has been proposed that an increased risk of atopic eczema may result from decreases in helminthic infestation. Fourth, studies of migrant groups have shown large increases in disease prevalence compared with migrants' country of origin, suggesting clues as to the importance of socio-economic and environmental changes such as those associated with industrialization. Finally, a distinct and consistent geographical pattern of eczema has been observed in the UK which cannot be explained by social class distribution. The various types of study have attempted to identify reasons for differences in prevalence but, to date, no definitive causation has been identified. In some cases, specific risk factors have been suggested and include house dust mites, dietary allergens and irritants. It is argued here that the aetiology is unlikely to be simple or uni-causal and that an understanding of the relationships between the disease and behaviour, lifestyle, home and external environmental factors is crucial. This paper reports the preliminary stages of an interdisciplinary research project involving dermatologists, epidemiologists and health geographers, and calls for investigation into associations between atopic eczema and possible environmental and lifestyle factors. These include behavioural factors, microenvironment factors and macroenvironments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)729 - 741
Number of pages13
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume46
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Atopic Dermatitis
Life Style
Disease
environmental factors
Economics
Social Class
social class
migrant
skin disease
Dermatophagoides Antigens
economics
large family
child well-being
Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis
Irritants
interdisciplinary research
Eczema
country of origin
Budgets
Genetic Predisposition to Disease

Cite this

@article{7404ef4962824f47baf9a043068c3f12,
title = "The problem of atopic eczema : aetiological clues from the environment and lifestyles",
abstract = "Atopic eczema is the most common inflammatory skin disease in children, affecting around 10{\%} of children in the developed world. It can be a distressing condition, influencing children's well-being, personal and educational development, and family life, and it has huge economic implications for health services and individual budgets. Like other atopic diseases such as asthma and hay fever, the prevalence of atopic eczema has increased substantially over the last 30 years, for reasons largely unknown. Although a genetic predisposition to the disease has been implicated, evidence from a range of sources suggests that environmental factors play a crucial role in the disease expression. This paper reviews the epidemiology of atopic eczema, with particular attention to potential environmental aetiological factors and draws evidence from studies in the UK and internationally. First, atopic eczema has been found to vary socially and to be more prevalent in the UK among social class I and II families than among other socio-economic groups. Second, it has been suggested that cross infection from other siblings in large families may have a protective role in atopic disease expression. Third, it has been proposed that an increased risk of atopic eczema may result from decreases in helminthic infestation. Fourth, studies of migrant groups have shown large increases in disease prevalence compared with migrants' country of origin, suggesting clues as to the importance of socio-economic and environmental changes such as those associated with industrialization. Finally, a distinct and consistent geographical pattern of eczema has been observed in the UK which cannot be explained by social class distribution. The various types of study have attempted to identify reasons for differences in prevalence but, to date, no definitive causation has been identified. In some cases, specific risk factors have been suggested and include house dust mites, dietary allergens and irritants. It is argued here that the aetiology is unlikely to be simple or uni-causal and that an understanding of the relationships between the disease and behaviour, lifestyle, home and external environmental factors is crucial. This paper reports the preliminary stages of an interdisciplinary research project involving dermatologists, epidemiologists and health geographers, and calls for investigation into associations between atopic eczema and possible environmental and lifestyle factors. These include behavioural factors, microenvironment factors and macroenvironments.",
author = "MCNALLY, {N. J.} and PHILLIPS, {David Rosser} and WILLIAMS, {H. C.}",
year = "1998",
doi = "10.1016/S0277-9536(97)00174-3",
language = "English",
volume = "46",
pages = "729 -- 741",
journal = "Social Science and Medicine",
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The problem of atopic eczema : aetiological clues from the environment and lifestyles. / MCNALLY, N. J.; PHILLIPS, David Rosser; WILLIAMS, H. C.

In: Social Science and Medicine, Vol. 46, No. 6, 1998, p. 729 - 741.

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)

TY - JOUR

T1 - The problem of atopic eczema : aetiological clues from the environment and lifestyles

AU - MCNALLY, N. J.

AU - PHILLIPS, David Rosser

AU - WILLIAMS, H. C.

PY - 1998

Y1 - 1998

N2 - Atopic eczema is the most common inflammatory skin disease in children, affecting around 10% of children in the developed world. It can be a distressing condition, influencing children's well-being, personal and educational development, and family life, and it has huge economic implications for health services and individual budgets. Like other atopic diseases such as asthma and hay fever, the prevalence of atopic eczema has increased substantially over the last 30 years, for reasons largely unknown. Although a genetic predisposition to the disease has been implicated, evidence from a range of sources suggests that environmental factors play a crucial role in the disease expression. This paper reviews the epidemiology of atopic eczema, with particular attention to potential environmental aetiological factors and draws evidence from studies in the UK and internationally. First, atopic eczema has been found to vary socially and to be more prevalent in the UK among social class I and II families than among other socio-economic groups. Second, it has been suggested that cross infection from other siblings in large families may have a protective role in atopic disease expression. Third, it has been proposed that an increased risk of atopic eczema may result from decreases in helminthic infestation. Fourth, studies of migrant groups have shown large increases in disease prevalence compared with migrants' country of origin, suggesting clues as to the importance of socio-economic and environmental changes such as those associated with industrialization. Finally, a distinct and consistent geographical pattern of eczema has been observed in the UK which cannot be explained by social class distribution. The various types of study have attempted to identify reasons for differences in prevalence but, to date, no definitive causation has been identified. In some cases, specific risk factors have been suggested and include house dust mites, dietary allergens and irritants. It is argued here that the aetiology is unlikely to be simple or uni-causal and that an understanding of the relationships between the disease and behaviour, lifestyle, home and external environmental factors is crucial. This paper reports the preliminary stages of an interdisciplinary research project involving dermatologists, epidemiologists and health geographers, and calls for investigation into associations between atopic eczema and possible environmental and lifestyle factors. These include behavioural factors, microenvironment factors and macroenvironments.

AB - Atopic eczema is the most common inflammatory skin disease in children, affecting around 10% of children in the developed world. It can be a distressing condition, influencing children's well-being, personal and educational development, and family life, and it has huge economic implications for health services and individual budgets. Like other atopic diseases such as asthma and hay fever, the prevalence of atopic eczema has increased substantially over the last 30 years, for reasons largely unknown. Although a genetic predisposition to the disease has been implicated, evidence from a range of sources suggests that environmental factors play a crucial role in the disease expression. This paper reviews the epidemiology of atopic eczema, with particular attention to potential environmental aetiological factors and draws evidence from studies in the UK and internationally. First, atopic eczema has been found to vary socially and to be more prevalent in the UK among social class I and II families than among other socio-economic groups. Second, it has been suggested that cross infection from other siblings in large families may have a protective role in atopic disease expression. Third, it has been proposed that an increased risk of atopic eczema may result from decreases in helminthic infestation. Fourth, studies of migrant groups have shown large increases in disease prevalence compared with migrants' country of origin, suggesting clues as to the importance of socio-economic and environmental changes such as those associated with industrialization. Finally, a distinct and consistent geographical pattern of eczema has been observed in the UK which cannot be explained by social class distribution. The various types of study have attempted to identify reasons for differences in prevalence but, to date, no definitive causation has been identified. In some cases, specific risk factors have been suggested and include house dust mites, dietary allergens and irritants. It is argued here that the aetiology is unlikely to be simple or uni-causal and that an understanding of the relationships between the disease and behaviour, lifestyle, home and external environmental factors is crucial. This paper reports the preliminary stages of an interdisciplinary research project involving dermatologists, epidemiologists and health geographers, and calls for investigation into associations between atopic eczema and possible environmental and lifestyle factors. These include behavioural factors, microenvironment factors and macroenvironments.

U2 - 10.1016/S0277-9536(97)00174-3

DO - 10.1016/S0277-9536(97)00174-3

M3 - Journal Article (refereed)

VL - 46

SP - 729

EP - 741

JO - Social Science and Medicine

JF - Social Science and Medicine

SN - 0277-9536

IS - 6

ER -