Wildfire Air Pollution Tied to Uptick in Visits for Dermatitis, Itch
Increased health care utilization seen for pediatric and adult patients
By Physician’s Briefing Staff | April 27, 2021
Short-term exposure to air pollution due to a wildfire is associated with increased health care use for patients with atopic dermatitis and itch, according to a study published online April 21 in JAMA Dermatology.
Raj P. Fadadu, from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues assessed the associations between wildfire-associated air pollution and clinic visits for atopic dermatitis or itch. The analysis included pediatric and adult patients with atopic dermatitis or itch from before, during, and after the time of the Camp Fire (October 2018 through February 2019; 4,147 individuals) versus patients with visits in the same time frame of 2015 and 2016, when no large wildfires were near San Francisco.
After adjusting for temperature, relative humidity, patient age, and total patient volume at the clinics for pediatric patients, the researchers found that the rates of visits for atopic dermatitis during the Camp Fire were 1.49 (95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.07 to 2.07) and 1.15 (95 percent CI, 1.02 to 1.30) times the rate for nonfire weeks at lag 0 for pediatric and adult patients, respectively. For itch clinic visits during the wildfire weeks, the adjusted rate ratios were 1.82 (95 percent CI, 1.20 to 2.78) for pediatric patients and 1.29 (95 percent CI, 0.96 to 1.75) for adult patients. An association was observed between a 10-μg/m3 increase in weekly mean particulate matter less than 2.5 μm in diameter concentration and a 7.7 percent increase in weekly pediatric itch clinic visits. During the Camp Fire at lag 0, the adjusted rate ratio for prescribed systemic medications in adults was 1.45 (95 percent CI, 1.03 to 2.05).
"These results may provide a better understanding of the association between poor air quality and skin health and guide health care professionals' counseling of patients with skin disease and public health practice," the authors write.