Background: Chronic hand eczema is defined as a persistent (>6 months’ duration) noninfectious skin inflammation of the hands. It is twice as common in women as men. Although genetic factors have been considered, greater exposure of women to wet work, such as housework, is assumed to be the most likely explanation. It has been debated whether lifestyle factors may be associated with chronic hand eczema.
Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate the influence of cigarette smoking on housewives for the development of chronic hand eczema.
Methods: We analyzed 516 housewives 18 years or older. Two hundred fourteen were affected by chronic hand eczema, and 302 were control subjects. Both patients and control subjects were divided into 2 subgroups, smokers and nonsmokers. An anonymous questionnaire was submitted to each woman.
Conclusions: No significant differences emerged between “smokers” and “nonsmokers” concerning the incidence of chronic hand eczema. In addition, the smokers were mainly affected by a milder (“almost clear”) form of the disease. On the other hand, “severe” forms of chronic hand eczema might be more frequent in nonsmokers when compared with smokers. This study suggests that smoking is not associated with onset of chronic hand eczema, but with less severe chronic hand eczema.