Eczema Linked to Increased Risk of Bone Fracture

Risk is small; distractions caused by itch and sleep problems are possible factors, experts say

FRIDAY, Oct. 31, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Eczema may increase the risk of bone fractures and joint injuries, according to research published online Oct. 29 in JAMA Dermatology.

In a study of 34,500 adults, researchers found that among 7 percent of people who had an eczema flare-up in the past year, 1.5 percent had a bone or joint injury and 0.6 percent had an injury that caused a limitation of function. Compared to people without eczema, those with the skin condition had more than double the risk of having had a fracture or bone or joint injury. The researchers also found that the risk of injuries increased with age and peaked at 50 to 69.

"Adults with eczema have higher rates of injuries, including fractures and bone and joint injuries," lead researcher Jonathan Silverberg, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor of dermatology at Northwestern University in Chicago, told HealthDay. Although this study found an association between eczema and bone and joint injuries, it wasn't designed to prove whether eczema is somehow a direct cause of those injuries.

"Eczema by itself was associated with higher rates of injuries. However, adults with eczema who also had sleep disturbance or psychiatric and behavioral disorders had even higher risk of injuries than those with eczema alone," Silverberg said. Adults with eczema have a number of risk factors for injuries, including distraction caused by itch, sleep deprivation, psychological and behavioral disorders, and the use of sleep aids and steroids that may lower bone strength, he said.

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