It is well-know that tobacco smoke is associated with a wide range of disease, most notably lung cancer and lung disease. The possible relationship between tobacco smoke and skin disease is not as well understood but is under investigation.
A recently published meta-analysis study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology demonstrated that both active and passive “second-hand” tobacco smoke are associated with eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis. The study compiled 86 observational studies and concluded that individuals with exposure to tobacco are more likely to have eczema. This association was identified both for passive exposure in children (cigarette smoke in the home) and for active smoking and passive exposure in adults. The studies did not assess the relationship between smoking and severity of the eczema. Although the association does not prove a cause-effect relationship between smoking and eczema, it is hypothesized that tobacco smoke may have negative effects on the immune/inflammatory system and on the skin cells (keratinocytes) resulting in impaired skin function, skin inflammation, and development of eczema. This new information provides yet another reason for smokers to consider putting down their cigarettes.