Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UC San Francisco Previously Published Works bannerUCSF

Frequency and Management of Sleep Disturbance in Adults with Atopic Dermatitis: A Systematic Review



Intense nocturnal pruritus as well as the complex pathophysiology of atopic dermatitis (AD) can severely affect sleep and become a major factor in negatively impacting quality of life in adults. However, much of the literature on sleep disturbance in AD patients is on the pediatric population, and it is not well studied in adults. Furthermore, limited studies are available to guide effective management of sleep disturbance in AD in general. We review the literature to present the studies that have investigated the relationship between AD and its effect on sleep in adults and provide an approach for clinicians caring for this population.


A systematic literature search was conducted through the PubMed and EMBASE databases using the search terms "atopic dermatitis" OR "eczema" AND "sleep." The articles generated by the search and their references were reviewed.


A high prevalence of sleep disturbance is experienced by adults with AD. The likelihood of sleep disturbance is much higher in patients with AD compared to those without AD. Sleep disturbance appears to worsen with AD severity. Pruritus and scratching appear to be large contributors to sleep disturbance in adult patients with AD.


It is important that clinicians evaluate the severity of AD and ask general questions about itching, sleep, impact on daily activities, and persistence of disease during each patient visit and follow-up with the complaint of sleep disturbance. Management of sleep disturbance in AD should focus on adequate disease control of AD as well as possible medical interventions to help improve sleep. The pathophysiology of sleep disturbance in AD is extremely complex, and further research is needed to better understand the interplay of the immune system, circadian rhythm, and environmental factors implicated in both AD and sleep.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View