Some research has linked eczema with smoking and secondhand smoke. However, the exact relationship between them is unclear, so understanding it will require further research.

Atopic dermatitis, which many people refer to as eczema, is a chronic condition. This means that a person may experience repeated flares of symptoms throughout their life.

Symptoms of eczema may include itchy, dry, rough, or cracked patches of skin. Most people with the condition will experience the onset of symptoms during childhood. However, adults can also develop eczema.

In this article, we will explore whether smoking can cause eczema, whether secondhand smoke can cause eczema, and when a person should consider speaking with a healthcare professional.

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Atopic dermatitis tends to occur more frequently in people who smoke than in those who do not, according to a 2016 meta-analysis.

The studies cited in the meta-analysis suggested the following theories about the relationship that may exist between smoking and eczema:

  • smoking increases a person’s risk of developing atopic dermatitis
  • stress may contribute to both atopic dermatitis flares and cause urges to smoke
  • shared risk factors increase a person’s risks of both smoking and developing atopic dermatitis

However, the authors of the meta-analysis highlighted that to completely understand the link between eczema and smoking, there is a need for further research.

Experts do not yet know the exact cause of atopic dermatitis. However, they theorize that several factors may play a part, including:

A combination of these factors may lead to changes in the functioning of a person’s skin barrier, which is the outermost layer of skin. It helps retain moisture and repel potentially toxic irritants.

Any changes to an individual’s skin barrier may trigger the development of symptoms of atopic dermatitis. The 2016 meta-analysis indicated that tobacco smoke may harm both the immune system and the skin barrier in numerous ways.

Research exploring the connection between atopic dermatitis and secondhand smoking has delivered mixed findings so far.

Some research has found atopic dermatitis to be more common in those who experience exposure to secondhand smoke, which some refer to as passive smoking.

Exposure to secondhand smoke increases a person’s risk of experiencing some health conditions, or worsens them, including:

Taking steps to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke or quitting smoking may help someone reduce risks to their health and the health of those around them.

A person should consider talking with a healthcare professional for guidance and support with quitting smoking. They may recommend solutions, such as:

A person can find more tips and solutions for quitting smoking by visiting or calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).

A doctor can also assist someone in devising a treatment plan to tackle their eczema symptoms. Possible treatments a healthcare professional may recommend or prescribe to treat atopic dermatitis include:

A person’s doctor may prescribe a combination of topical and systemic treatments, such as biologics, for the treatment of moderate to severe eczema.

Biologics are medications that work by blocking specific proteins in the immune system that trigger inflammation. They may help alleviate symptoms of atopic dermatitis.

Some research indicates that atopic dermatitis occurs more often in people who smoke than in those who do not. In addition, the condition may be more common in those who experience repeated exposure to secondhand smoke.

Additionally, smoking and secondhand smoke may increase a person’s risk of developing various conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, and respiratory infections.

A person should speak with a doctor to learn more about which eczema treatments may work best for them. In addition, a healthcare professional can provide advice and support to anyone who wishes to quit smoking.