Eczema is a common and chronic inflammatory condition that leaves skin dry and itchy. A large study published in the February 2020 issue of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that people with eczema had an increased bone fracture risk, especially if the eczema was severe. Researchers compared 500,000 adults with eczema to more than 2.5 million people who didn't have eczema. Over a period of five years, people with eczema appeared to have slightly higher rates (7% to 18%) of wrist, hip, pelvis, and spine fractures, compared with people who didn't have eczema. People with severe eczema had much higher rates of hip fractures (50% higher), pelvis fractures (66% higher), and spine fractures (109% higher, or more than double the risk) than people without eczema. The study is observational and doesn't prove that eczema causes bone fractures; it could be that certain medications and lifestyle habits contributed to broken bones in the study. "But based on the findings, people with eczema should be aware their skin condition may increase the risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures, and should talk to their health care provider to decide if preventive measures and screening tests for osteoporosis are warranted. Healthy lifestyle choices, such as getting enough calcium and vitamin D and getting regular aerobic and weight-bearing exercise, are important for everyone and may be particularly important for people with eczema," says Dr. Robert Shmerling, a rheumatologist at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
Image: © PeopleImages/Getty Images
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.