CDC Report: Seven Percent of Adults and 11 Percent of Kids Had Eczema in 2021


Peter Lio, MD, sheds light on the new findings.

Slightly more than 7% of adults and nearly 11% of kids had eczema in 2021, according to two new reports in the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics Data Brief.

While the new research wasn’t designed to determine if eczema is on the rise, the condition does appear to be more prevalent than in past years.

“There is convincing data that in the past 60 years we have seen allergic diseases including eczema skyrocket in the US,” says Peter Lio, MD, a Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology and Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. “There are a number of theories, but one of the most compelling theories is that there are pollutants in the environment that can damage the microbiome and the skin barrier which can lead to an increase in allergic disorders. There does seem to be something about modern life that is driving it, and genetics alone are not enough to explain this.”

The good news is that there are many new and exciting eczema treatments available today, he says.

“After decades of stasis, we now have an explosion of new therapies for atopic dermatitis (AD), from topicals to orals to injectables,” he said.  In March 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave its nod to dupilumab, which changed practice. 

“This was the first systemic non-steroidal agent that offered promise to help get things under control for many patients with moderate to severe AD, and it largely fulfilled its promise,” he said. “ A similar medication called tralokinumab has now also been released which gives another injectable option, and then most recently we got two new oral medications in the JAK inhibitor class called upadacitinib and abrocitinib.”

What’s more, ruxolitinib is a topical JAK inhibitor that is approved for people 12 and older with mild to moderate AD. “All of these treatments mean more non-steroidal options for patients who really need them and have made finding the right "fit" orders of magnitude easier,” he says. 

The AD pipeline is even more exciting.  “We have dozens of medications in varying stages of development, and we continue to learn more about the condition as we get new and more refined treatments. It's really amazing.” 

And those are just the prescription treatments, he says. ” There has also been an incredible blooming of over-the-counter approaches, from topical probiotics to anti-bacterial endolysins, to hypochlorous acid preparations, to those that contain strontium for anti-itch properties, we are seeing a dizzying array of new ideas and approaches, and frankly we need it.”

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