AD Can Come with Stress

Perceived stress and atopic dermatitis (AD) are associated, a Korean study finds.

A recent study found that perceived stress and atopic dermatitis (AD) are associated. The study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, was conducted by Hyejin Park of the Department of International Medical Management at the Catholic University of Daegu in Kyungbuk, Korea, and colleagues.

Although some factors causing AD are known, such as genetic predisposition, urban living, diet, among others, the “major etiologic factor remains unknown,” according to the authors. Several past studies have shown a relationship between stress and AD, but the researchers say, “there are only a few recent population-based studies of AD for adults,” adding, “the goal of this study was to determine the association between perceived stress and AD in Korean adults by using data obtained from the 2007-2012 Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES), a nationally representative survey conducted in the Republic of Korea.”

Data from a total of 33,018 adults over the age of 20 were included; of those 607 reported having AD. “Age, educational level, and cigarette smoking were significantly associated with prevalence of AD,” said the researchers, though “sex, BMI, income, and alcohol consumption” were not. They also report finding that “psychological stress is strongly associated with AD.”

Despite knowing there is an association, researchers do not know why it exists. The researchers suggest that “these associations involve the role of cytokines as peripheral inflammatory mediators that modulate bidirectional communication between systemic inflammatory responses and brain function,” or “immunological changes via activation of neuroendocrine pathways.”

Cross-sectional studies necessarily have some limitations, and the present study is not an exception. Self-reporting was the mechanism to determine stress levels, as was information about AD. The researchers suggest that future studies should include cohort studies in order to learn more about the relationship between stress and AD.

“In this study, we found that perceived stress was strongly associated with AD in Korean adults,” conclude the authors, adding “our results emphasize that stress may play an important role in the etiology and prognosis of AD.”