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Older adults with atopic eczema are more prone to dementia.

Chronic inflammation has emerged as a key predictor and mechanism in the initiation and progression of neuropathologic alterations reported in dementia patients. Atopic eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis or eczema, is a chronic skin disorder characterized by immunological dysregulation that affects 5% to 15% of those over 60 years of age.

A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology reported that older adults with atopic eczema are more likely to develop dementia.

Atopic Eczema Is Linked With Dementia

In a large population-based cohort, it was discovered that older persons with atopic eczema were 27% more likely to develop dementia. The incidence of dementia was 57 per 10,000 person-years among those with atopic eczema and 44 per 10,000 person-years among those without atopic eczema.

This connection was comparable across subtypes of dementia (Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia), increased with the severity of atopic eczema, was not attributed to the use of systemic corticosteroids, and was not entirely explained by concomitant diseases.

Atopic Eczema May Be Related to Inflammation or Inflammatory Disease

Because individuals with atopic eczema have higher levels of serum inflammatory markers, which are associated with structural abnormalities in the white matter, cognitive decline, and dementia, the researchers hypothesize that it may be related to inflammation. In addition, atopic eczema has been linked to sleep disturbances, which may play a role in the etiology of dementia.

“This finding is important because both atopic eczema and dementia are common among older adults,

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who are the fastest growing demographic group worldwide.”

-Alexa Magyari and Morgan Ye, UC Berkeley School of Public Health, Berkeley


Atopic eczema is prevalent in older persons; consequently, future research should investigate the impact of cognitive impairment screening in patients with atopic dermatitis.


Magyari, A., Ye, M., Margolis, D. J., McCulloch, C. E., Cummings, S. R., Yaffe, K., Langan, S. M., & Abuabara, K. (2022). Adult atopic eczema and the risk of dementia: A population-based cohort study. J Am Acad Dermatol, 87(2), 314-322. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaad.2022.03.049