How Does Climate Change Impact Dermatology?

June 7, 2021
Jonathan Alicea

Jonathan Alicea is an assistant editor for HCPLive. He graduated from Princeton University with a degree with English and minors in Linguistics and Theater. He spends his free time writing plays, playing PlayStation, enjoying the company of his 2 pugs, and navigating a right-handed world as a lefty. You can email him at

Misha Rosenbach, MD, gives an overview of climate change and its relevance to dermatology.

Dermatologist Misha Rosenbach, MD, of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University Pennsylvania, co-authored a 2016 article titled, “The effect of climate change on skin disease in North America.”

In their abstract, Rosenbach and colleagues wrote, “although globalization, travel, and trade are also important to changing disease and vector patterns, climate change creates favorable habitats and expanded access to immunologically naïve hosts.”

The paper highlighted examples of this continuing shift in the disease landscape for North America — such as increasing geographic risks of endemic Lyme disease, leishmaniasis, and dimorphic fungal infections; longer and more intense transmission seasons of hand-foot-and-mouth disease; and incidences of Chikungunya and dengue, for example.

As temperatures continue to rise, populations will continue to find themselves at increasing risks for more novel threats to health. As the most exposed organ of the body, the skin itself faces high risks caused by elevated heat levels and newer, foreign pathogens.

In the latest episode of Derm Discussions, Rosenbach talked with Brad Glick, DO, about the large-scale impacts of climate change on global health.

Rosenbach gave an overview of the climate change; why all individuals, most especially healthcare specialists, should face this issue with urgency; and how this particular issue is relevant for dermatology.

“The natural world is not equipped to respond to a rate of [CO2] change that, since the industrial revolution, humans have been forcing the world to go through,” Rosenbach said. “And that’s leading to a lot of changes in the narural world, which is leading to a lot of changes in medicine.”

Listen to the full podcast episode below: