Eczema May Increase Your Fracture Risk

If you are bothered by the itchy symptoms of eczema, a new study suggests that you may also be at higher risk for fracture. We explore the study, and explain why a skin condition may put your bones at risk.



Eczema is one of the most common skin diseases. This dry skin condition is characterized by symptoms that can include redness, swelling, and itching. Patients may also experience uncomfortable crusting, blistering, or cracking of the skin. A skin disease may not seem to have much connection to bone health, but several factors common to many eczema patients suggest that there may be a relation between this skin condition and fracture risk:

  • Eczema is frequently treated with topical and systemic corticosteroids, which can cause bone loss, making bones more susceptible to fractures.
  • The painful condition is linked to increased tobacco and alcohol use. Smoking is contributing factor to bone loss, and studies suggest that chronic, heavy alcohol use may disrupt bone formation and increase incidence of fractures.
  • The distraction of contorting to scratch, combined with interrupted sleep, may contribute to increased risk of injury and accident.

A study, published in the December 13, 2014 Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, was based on the hypothesis that eczema might contribute to elevated fracture risk because of chronic inflammation, the use of corticosteroids, and condition-related behaviors that raised injury risks. Investigators analyzed data from the 2005 to 2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, studying associations between eczema, fracture, metabolic factors, and sociodemographic variables. Data was based on 4972 people.

Researchers found that adults with eczema had a 48 percent higher risk of fracture at any site, compared to adults without a history of eczema. Osteoporosis was associated with daily oral corticosteroid treatment for at least one month or longer.

Although a connection between eczema and fracture risk is possible, researchers agree that further investigation is warranted to confirm the certainty of a link between these skin and bone issues. In the meantime, adults with eczema may benefit from a medical check-up for osteoporosis.

Whether you have eczema, or are simply committed to maintaining healthy bones, you can increase your protection against fractures by talking with your doctor about identifying and lowering osteoporosis risk factors.



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