Dissertation: Atopic dermatitis is associated with eating disorders and other psychiatric illnesses

Individuals with atopic dermatitis have an increased risk of developing eating disorders, according to the doctoral dissertation by Licentiate of Medicine Saana Kauppi.

Atopic dermatitis is the most common inflammatory skin disease worldwide, affecting up to one-fifth of children and nearly a tenth of adults. The disease manifests as varying-sized patches of eczema, with a key symptom being itching, which can impair concentration, work capacity, and sleep quality.

The aim of the dissertation was to enhance understanding of psychiatric and somatic diseases associated with atopic dermatitis, impacting patients' quality of life and health. This area has been relatively unexplored until now.

The study revealed that individuals with atopic dermatitis face an elevated risk of eating disorders, particularly during adolescence. The highest risk was associated with bulimia. The connection between eating disorders and atopic dermatitis has not been reported previously.

The research also indicated that anxiety disorders and depression are the most common psychiatric comorbidities in adult individuals with atopic dermatitis. Additionally, there is an increased risk of schizophrenia, a rare but severe mental health disorder.

In children, atopic dermatitis was found to significantly increase the risk of both celiac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis. However, due to the limited prevalence of celiac disease in the study population, further research on this topic is needed. Celiac disease affects approximately 2% of the Finnish population.

The study utilized data from the National Institute for Health and Welfare's care notification register and the Digital and Population Data Services Agency's population register from 1987 to 2018. The sample included patients diagnosed with atopic eczema.

Saana Kauppi, a specialist in dermatology and allergology, emphasizes the need for a comprehensive approach to patients with atopic dermatitis in healthcare, taking into account the possibility of both somatic and psychiatric comorbidities. Kauppi argues that the goal of treatment should not only be effective disease management but also minimal impact on the patient's daily life.

Saana Kauppi defended her dissertation at the University of Oulu on December 8th.


More information about the dissertation

Last updated: 12.12.2023