Previous knowledge of the impact of certain life-style factors on hand eczema is scanty.
To investigate a possible association between hand eczema and life-style factors such as obesity, physical exercise, stress, smoking and alcohol consumption.
In a cross-sectional public health survey in Stockholm, Sweden, 27,994 (58%) randomly chosen individuals aged 18-64 years completed a postal questionnaire regarding physical and mental health, social relations, economic status and work. Of these, 27,793 individuals responded to the question regarding hand eczema and were included in the present study. The association between life-style factors and hand eczema was analysed by prevalence proportion ratios (PPR), using a generalized linear model.
Hand eczema was more common among individuals who reported high stress levels, PPR 1·326 (95% CI 1·303-1·350). There was also a positive dose-response relationship between hand eczema and stress. Hand eczema was less common among individuals reporting high physical exercise, and most apparent in women, PPR 0·781 (95% CI 0·770-0·792). Men who reported high alcohol intake reported hand eczema less often, PPR 0·958 (95% CI 0·930-0·987). Obese individuals reported hand eczema more commonly, PPR 1·204 (95% CI 1·174-1·234). There was a slight increase of hand eczema among smokers, PPR 1·025 (95% CI 1·006-1·044).
Hand eczema was more common in individuals who reported stress, obesity and smoking. In individuals who reported high physical exercise levels hand eczema was less common. As there appears to be an association between life-style factors and hand eczema it is important to consider life-style factors in clinical practice.