Intended for healthcare professionals

Student Education

Dermatology clinic

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 01 August 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:0108272
  1. Susannah Baron, specialist registrar in dermatology1
  1. 1Leeds

This month Susannah Baron focuses on the quality of life issues to consider when managing someone with a skin disease

Most dermatological diseases are chronic and, as for so many diseases in medicine, we understand just a few of the aetiological factors. Patients with diseases such as psoriasis and rosacea often find it difficult to come to terms with the fact that we do not fully understand why this particular skin disease began at this time in their life. It is also hard to be told that management of disease will be aimed at control because there is often no cure.

Dermatological disease is very visible and causes considerable physical and psychological disability. In the past few years studies have been conducted to try to assess the impact of disease on quality of life. It is so important in the clinic room to remember that your patient may have to spend many hours applying messy creams and ointments which can stain clothes and furniture and clog up the washing machine. One patient with a long history of widespread psoriasis told me recently that if he was offered a treatment which would enable him to be clear of psoriasis for the next 10 years but after which he would die he would gladly take it.

A study to measure the impact of psoriasis on quality of life was recently conducted in the United States.1 A questionnaire was sent to 40350 members of the National Psoriasis Foundation and was returned by 17488, of whom 6194 had severe psoriasis. A cohort was …

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