The vast majority of dermatologists (95.6 percent) believe climate change is occurring and 88.6 percent indicated that climate change will impact the incidence of skin diseases in their areas, according to an online survey was conducted by the International Society of Dermatology's (ISD) Climate Change Committee.

Results appear in the International Journal of Dermatology (IJD) 2020.

"While dermatologists around the world have seen evidence of the effects of climate change on skin health for quite some time, our goal was to understand how dermatologists perceive these effects and how they view its influence on public health and the patterns and burden of skin disease," says Louise K. Andersen, MD, chair of the ISD's Climate Change Committee and lead researcher of the survey, in a news release. "While we have found that climate change has already affected dermatology practices, we also see an opportunity to mitigate the adverse health effects of climate change in the future by improving dermatologists' knowledge about how climate change can impact the skin."

Nearly all dermatologists surveyed (94.3 percent) reported concern about climate change, with 86.1 percent reporting concern that climate change will affect their life and 81 percent expressing concern that it will affect their work as dermatologists. In addition, 88 percent of dermatologists thought that dermatologists should play an advocacy role in climate change-related health issues.

When asked if they believed that climate change will affect the incidence of specific infections and diseases in their areas, the majority of dermatologists surveyed agreed this to be true. Specifically, 76 percent of respondents believed that climate change will affect the incidence of fungal infections, while 81.6 percent and 75.3 percent said it will affect the incidence of vector-borne diseases and water-borne diseases, respectively.

Approximately one-third (31 percent) of respondents currently reported unusual skin conditions in their communities that they believed could be related to climate change, including common and atypical infections, UV- or heat-related diseases (including skin cancers, photodermatoses and miliaria), and inflammatory dermatoses (atopic dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis and psoriasis). Dr. Andersen added that nearly one-fourth (21.5 percent) of respondents observed unusual infectious diseases such as cutaneous fungal infections and vector-borne diseases (Lyme disease, Leishmaniasis and Dengue) but also ectoparasitic, bacterial, and viral infections that they thought may be related to changing climate in their areas.

About the Survey

Conducted by the International Society of Dermatology's Climate Change Committee, the 16-question online survey was sent to ISD members electronically and data were collected from November 20 to December 31, 2019. Of the ISD's 1,559 current members, 158 (10.1 percent) replied to the survey. Of these, 87.4 percent dermatologists, 12 percent were dermatology residents, and 0.6 percent represented other healthcare providers.