Statin use elevates risk of eczema and atopic dermatitis

A cohort study showed that patients taking statins are at a significant higher risk to develop eczema/atopic dermatitis compared with individuals not taking these medications [1]. As statins are frequently prescribed in the elderly, dermatologists should be aware of this association.

Statins are widely prescribed to patients with lipid disorders or heart disease due to their proven cardioprotective efficacy. They inhibit hepatic cholesterol synthesis and increase hepatic cholesterol uptake. In addition, they have immune-modulating effects [2]. The latter may interfere with eczema or atopic eczema. Indeed, there are published reports of statin-induced dermatological complications, although the frequency of eczema has not been assessed previously [3,4].

In this retrospective analysis, data was derived from medical records of patients admitted to the University of Iowa hospitals and Clinics. Patients with heart disease who were taking a statin before 2012 were compared with patients with heart disease who had never been prescribed a statin. In both groups, the development of eczema/atopic dermatitis was assessed over a time period of 6 years. The data was stratified by various factors including gender, age, weight, BMI, alcohol consumption, and smoking status.

Patients taking statins had an incidence of eczema of 6.77% compared with 1.68% in those not taking statins (P<0.001). This translates into a >4-fold elevated relative risk of developing eczema in statin users. Male patients had a higher risk for eczema compared with female patients. There was also a higher incidence in eczema in non-Caucasians compared with Caucasians. Patients in the age group >60 years even had a 7 times higher relative risk to develop eczema compared with patients in this age group that did not take statins.

The study authors plan to elucidate this association further in a prospective trial to assess whether there are differences in the intake of different statins with respect to development of eczema.

  1. Cheung K, et al. Poster presented at 24th World Congress of Dermatology, 10-15 June 2019, Milan, Italy.
  2. Arnaud C, et al. Curr Drug Targets Cardiovasc Haematol Disord. 2005;5:127-34.
  3. Salna MP, et al. Case Rep Dermatol Med 2017; 3418204.
  4. Pedersen TR, et al. Arch Intern Med 1996;156:2085-92.

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