The impact of climate change on skin health

Austen Anderson, Fiona Bruce, H Peter Soyer, Crystal Williams and Rebecca B Saunderson
Med J Aust 2023; 218 (9): . || doi: 10.5694/mja2.51931
Published online: 15 May 2023

Climate change affects skin health and skin diseases; mitigation and adaptation strategies are required and are time‐critical

The latest contribution to the sixth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change explained that the earth has continued to experience a net increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions since 2010.1 Australia has very high per capita greenhouse gas emissions.1

  • 1 Royal Perth Hospital, Perth, WA
  • 2 Austin Health, Melbourne, VIC
  • 3 Frazer Institute and Dermatology Research Centre, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD
  • 4 Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane, QLD
  • 5 Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne, VIC
  • 6 Royal Darwin Hospital, Darwin, NT
  • 7 Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, NSW
  • 8 University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW


H Peter Soyer holds a National Health and Medical Research Council Medical Research Future Fund Next Generation Clinical Researchers Program Practitioner Fellowship (APP1137127), which is unrelated to the submitted publication.

Competing interests:

H Peter Soyer is a shareholder of MoleMap NZ and E‐Derm Consult and undertakes regular teledermatological reporting for both companies. He is a medical consultant for Canfield Scientific, MoleMap Australia, Blaze Bioscience, and a medical advisor for First Derm.

  • 1. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Summary for policymakers. In: Shukla PR, Skea J, Reisinger A, et al; editors. Climate change 2022: mitigation of climate change — Working Group III contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge, UK, and New York, USA: Cambridge University Press, 2022. (viewed Mar 2023).
  • 2. Bureau of Meteorology. State of the Climate 2022: Australia's changing climate [website]. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia, 2022.‐of‐the‐climate/australias‐changing‐climate.shtml (viewed Sept 2022).
  • 3. Williams ML. Global warming, heat‐related illnesses, and the dermatologist. Int J Womens Dermatol 2021; 7: 70‐84.
  • 4. Burns T, Breathnach S, Cox N, Griffiths C; editors. Rook's textbook of dermatology, 8th ed. Wiley, 2010.
  • 5. Loffeld A, Davies P, Lewis A, Moss C. Seasonal occurrence of impetigo: a retrospective 8‐year review (1996–2003). Clin Exp Dermatol 2005; 30: 512‐514.
  • 6. Bandino JP, Hang A, Norton SA. The infectious and noninfectious dermatological consequences of flooding: a field manual for the responding provider. Am J Clin Dermatol 2015; 16: 399‐424.
  • 7. Fadadu RP, Grimes B, Jewell NP, et al. Association of wildfire air pollution and health care use for atopic dermatitis and itch. JAMA Dermatol 2021; 157: 658‐666.
  • 8. Wayne P, Foster S, Connolly J, et al. Production of allergenic pollen by ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia L.) is increased in CO2‐enriched atmospheres. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2002; 88: 279‐282.
  • 9. Case MJ, Stinson KA. Climate change impacts on the distribution of the allergenic plant, common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) in the eastern United States. PLoS One 2018; 13: e0205677.
  • 10. Mohan JE, Ziska LH, Schlesinger WH, et al. Biomass and toxicity responses of poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) to elevated atmospheric CO2. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2006; 103: 9086‐9089.
  • 11. Krutmann J, Bouloc A, Sore G, et al. The skin aging exposome. J Dermatol Sci 2017; 85: 152‐161.
  • 12. Hall NL, Barnes S, Canuto C, et al. Climate change and infectious diseases in Australia's Torres Strait Islands. Aust N Z J Public Health 2021; 45: 122‐128.
  • 13. Coates SJ, Davis MDP, Andersen LK. Temperature and humidity affect the incidence of hand, foot, and mouth disease: a systematic review of the literature — a report from the International Society of Dermatology Climate Change Committee. Int J Dermatol 2019; 58: 388‐399.
  • 14. Neale RE, Barnes PW, Robson TM, et al. Environmental effects of stratospheric ozone depletion, UV radiation, and interactions with climate change: UNEP Environmental Effects Assessment Panel, update 2020. Photochem Photobiol Sci 2021; 20: 1‐67.
  • 15. Xu R, Yu P, Abramson MJ, et al. Wildfires, global climate change, and human health. N Engl J Med 2020; 383: 2173‐2181.
  • 16. Bellinato F, Adami G, Vaienti S, et al. Association between short‐term exposure to environmental air pollution and psoriasis flare. JAMA Dermatol 2022; 158: 375‐381.
  • 17. Passeron T, Zouboulis CC, Tan J, et al. Adult skin acute stress responses to short‐term environmental and internal aggression from exposome factors. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol 2021; 35: 1963‐1975.
  • 18. Kuhn H, Mennella C, Magid M, et al. Psychocutaneous disease: clinical perspectives. J Am Acad Dermatol 2017; 76: 779‐791.
  • 19. Palinkas LA, Wong M. Global climate change and mental health. Curr Opin Psychol 2020; 32: 12‐16.
  • 20. Hall NL, Crosby L. Climate change impacts on health in remote Indigenous communities in Australia. Int J Environ Health Res 2020; 32: 487‐502.
  • 21. Davidson L, Knight J, Bowen AC. Skin infections in Australian Aboriginal children: a narrative review. Med J Aust 2020; 212: 231‐237.‐infections‐australian‐aboriginal‐children‐narrative‐review
  • 22. Engelman D, Cantey PT, Marks M, et al. The public health control of scabies: priorities for research and action. Lancet 2019; 394: 81‐92.
  • 23. Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association. AIDA 25th anniversary member stories: Dr Crystal Williams [website]. AIDA, 2022.‐story/aida‐25th‐anniversary‐member‐stories‐dr‐crystal‐williams/ (viewed Apr 2023).
  • 24. Malik A, Lenzen M, McAlister S, McGain F. The carbon footprint of Australian health care. Lancet Planet Health 2018; 2: e27‐e35
  • 25. Ahuja S, Briggs SM, Collier SM. Teledermatology in rural, underserved, and isolated environments: a review. Curr Dermatol Rep 2022; 11: 328‐335.


remove_circle_outline Delete Author
add_circle_outline Add Author

Do you have any competing interests to declare? *

I/we agree to assign copyright to the Medical Journal of Australia and agree to the Conditions of publication *
I/we agree to the Terms of use of the Medical Journal of Australia *
Email me when people comment on this article

Online responses are no longer available. Please refer to our instructions for authors page for more information.