People with hand eczema smoke more, experience more stress and are more often obese than people without hand eczema


- by Marrit van der Burgh

In order to investigate the associations between various life style factors and hand eczema, an additional questionnaire on skin disorders was sent to all adult Lifelines participants. This additional questionnaire also provided insight on the prevalence of hand eczema.

All participants had previously filled in general Lifelines questionnaires on smoking behaviour, alcohol use, stress, sport and physical activity, eating behaviour and sleep habits. In addition, their body length, body weight, and waist circumference were measured.

A little over 57.000 participants filled in this questionnaire. Of these participants, 7.3% reported having hand eczema in the last year. This group was compared with the group of participants who reported that they had never had any hand eczema. It was found that people with recent hand eczema smoked more and/or over a longer period (i.e. more often at least eight cigarettes per day and/or at least fifteen packyears, meaning the number of years one has smoked multiplied by the number of packs smoked per day). They also reported to have experienced long-term stress more often, and they had more often a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more, or a waist circumference of 90 centimetres or more. No differences between the groups were found for the other lifestyle factors, e.g. alcohol use, sport and physical activity, eating behaviour, and sleep habits.

The conclusion of the study is that there is a relationship between smoking, overweight, and stress, and having hand eczema. It cannot be definitively concluded that these lifestyle factors contributed to the hand eczema, or that the hand eczema itself had an impact on lifestyle. Either way, it is important for practitioners of patients with hand eczema to pay attention to a healthy lifestyle.