The epidemiology of eczema in children and adults in England: A population-based study using primary care data

Simon de Lusignan, Helen Alexander, Conor Broderick, John Dennis, Andrew McGovern, Claire Feeney, Carsten Flohr*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Whilst eczema is a common inflammatory skin condition, we lack contemporary estimates of disease incidence and prevalence across the lifespan. Objective: To estimate the incidence and prevalence of eczema in children and adults in England and variation by sociodemographic factors (sex, socio-economic status, ethnicity, and geography). Methods: We used the Royal College of General Practitioners Research and Surveillance Centre primary care research database of 3.85 million children and adults registered with participating general practitioner practices between 2009 and 2018 inclusive. Eczema incidence was defined as the first-ever diagnosis of eczema recorded in the primary care record, and eczema prevalence was defined as fulfilment of criteria for active eczema (two eczema records appearing in the primary care record within any one-year period). Results: Eczema incidence was highest in infants younger than 1 year (15.0 per 100 person-years), lowest in adults aged 40–49 (0.35 p/100 person-years), and increased from middle age to a second smaller peak in people 80 years or older (0.79 p/100 person-years). Eczema prevalence was highest in children aged 2 (16.5%) and lowest in adults aged 30–39 (2.8%). Eczema incidence was higher in male infants (<2) and male adults older than 70; for all other ages, incidence was higher in females. Eczema was more common in Asian and black ethnic groups than in people of white ethnicity. Higher socio-economic status was associated with a greater incidence of eczema in infants younger than 2, but the reverse was seen for all other age groups. Both incidence and prevalence of eczema were greater in urban settings and in North-West England. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance: Eczema has a bimodal distribution across the lifespan. We observed differences in incidence and prevalence of eczema by ethnicity, geography, sex, and socio-economic status, which varied in magnitude throughout life.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical and Experimental Allergy
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


  • atopic dermatitis
  • dermatology
  • eczema
  • epidemiology
  • incidence
  • primary care


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