How common is atopic dermatitis?
Atopic dermatitis affects around 20% of children and up to 10% of adults. Yet, the prevalence and disease burden of atopic dermatitis varies considerably between countries. The reasons for these variations are still poorly understood.
A striking aspect of atopic dermatitis is the higher prevalence in young children than in adults. Although atopic dermatitis is a chronic skin disease, some children will ‘grow-out of it’ at some point in their life and may no longer experience symptoms. Yet for many children, atopic dermatitis can persist into adulthood and last across the lifespan. Adults can also develop atopic dermatitis for the first time. The reasons for atopic dermatitis affecting people at different ages and the variations in onset, progression and remission are not clear, and have been subject to research. Therefore, measuring the prevalence and incidence of atopic dermatitis is complex.
The reported age-standardized prevalence per age-group based on the GBD data shows a bimodal curve, suggesting a high prevalence of atopic dermatitis in young children that declines towards adulthood, with an upward trend in later life.
The prevalence of atopic dermatitis varies worldwide. Based on 2017 GBD data, the five highest scoring countries are Sweden, United Kingdom, Iceland, Finland, and Denmark and the lowest five are Uzbekistan, Armenia, Tajikistan, China, and Kazakhstan.
The burden of atopic dermatitis, measured in disability-adjusted life-years (DALY’s) is in line with the prevalence. Based on data from 2017 GBD data, the five highest scoring countries are Sweden, United Kingdom, Iceland, Finland, and Denmark, and the five lowest are Uzbekistan, Armenia, Tajikistan, China, and Kazakhstan.
Despite a common perception that atopic dermatitis would be mainly a ‘western’ and industrialized disease, this is not the case. The highest scoring region in DALY’s is Andean Latin America and the fifth highest scoring region is Southern Sub-Saharan Africa.