Researchers examine rates of skin conditions among urban-living Indigenous children

A systematic analysis in Pediatric Dermatology that included all relevant studies published since 1990 indicates that many urban-living Indigenous children and young people (CYP) in high-income countries are burdened with atopic dermatitis (or eczema) and bacterial skin infections (including skin sores).

Investigators note that these conditions are intertwined, in that poorly managed atopic dermatitis predisposes to recurrent bacterial skin infections, and secondary infection of atopic dermatitis contributes to more severe disease. Both conditions adversely impact general health, school performance, and overall quality of life. Untreated bacterial skin infections can also lead to serious complications such as sepsis, kidney disease, and rheumatic heart disease.

In this recent analysis, current and severe symptoms of atopic dermatitis were more common in urban-living Indigenous CYP compared with their non-Indigenous peers, with children having a higher prevalence than adolescents. Urban-living Indigenous CYP also had a higher incidence of bacterial skin infections compared with their non-Indigenous peers.

“This research highlights atopic dermatitis and bacterial skin infections to be health inequities faced by Indigenous CYP in high-income countries, reflecting the shared history of displacement and devastation secondary to colonization,” said corresponding author Bernadette Ricciardo, MBSS, DCH, FACD, of the University of Western Australia and the Telethon Kids Institute. “There is a need for co-designed research with Indigenous communities to better understand the impact of atopic dermatitis and bacterial skin infections on urban-living Indigenous CYP, and to help identify community-wide strategies for the prevention and treatment of these conditions.”