A systematic review and meta-analysis of the prevalence and phenotype of adult-onset atopic dermatitis

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology








adult-onset; atopic dermatitis; eczema; epidemiology; meta-analysis; phenotype; prevalence; systematic review


© 2018 American Academy of Dermatology, Inc. Background: Previous studies found conflicting results about whether atopic dermatitis (AD) begins in adulthood. Objective: To determine rates, predictors, and phenotypic differences of adult-onset AD. Methods: A systematic review was performed with all published observational studies in Medline, Embase, GREAT (Global Resource of EczemA Trials), LILACS (Latin American and Caribbean Health Sciences Literature), Cochrane Library, and Scopus that analyzed the age of AD onset beyond 10 years of age. At least two reviewers performed study title, abstract review, and data extraction. Pooled meta-analysis of the proportion of adult-onset AD was performed by using random-effects weighting (I2 = 99.3%). Results: Overall, 25 studies met inclusion criteria. Seventeen studies reported age of AD onset as after 16 years of age and had sufficient data for meta-analysis. The pooled proportion (95% confidence interval) of adult-onset AD was 26.1% (16.5%-37.2%). Similar results were found in sensitivity analyses by AD diagnostic method, study region, and sex. Phenotypic differences were observed across studies for adult-onset and child-onset AD, including higher rates of foot dermatitis and personal history of atopy but lower rates of flexural lesions and other signs and symptoms. Limitations: Characteristics of adult-onset versus child-onset AD were not commonly reported. Conclusion: AD is not only a disease of childhood; 1 in 4 adults with AD report adult-onset disease, which has distinct clinical characteristics as compared to child-onset AD.

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