Stigmatisation a major impact of skin diseases across Europe, reveals JEADV study

LUGANO, Italy, Oct. 8, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The Burden of Skin Disease in Europe, a major pan-European study analysing 19,015 individuals with a range of skin diseases, has revealed the huge psychological toll of living with a disease. 

Published today in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (JEADV), the diseases examined in the study included acne, atopic dermatitis, alopecia, psoriasis and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

88% patients with skin disease considered their disease to be embarrassing in their personal life, with 83% reporting the same in their working life. Furthermore, almost 25% reported to have changed their professional activity due to their disease, and work life was particularly impaired in patients with acne (48%) and urticaria (60%).

Previous findings from the study show that almost half of the adult European population declared having at least one dermatological disease. The prevalence of skin diseases is likely to be significantly higher than this, as 40% of skin cancers and STD diagnoses remain unrecognised on first consultation.

Prof. Marie-Aleth Richard, lead author of the research, comments, “This study highlights the alarming psychosocial challenge faced by individuals with skin diseases and underscores the need to provide psychological support to patients, and to mitigate the stigmatisation that patients endure in their personal and professional lives. With a profound impact on mental health, these common diseases exert a significant toll on patients’ quality of life.”

Despite their high prevalence and psychological and physical impact, skin diseases receive limited policy, research and funding attention. The patient journey is frequently complex, with many avoiding medical consultations, which contributes to an underestimated true burden.

“Skin diseases are systematically underestimated, and only a small number of interventions on tackling associated stigmatisation have been published,” adds Prof. Myrto Trakatelli, Chair of EADV’s Advocacy Working Group. “Urgent action must be taken to raise awareness of the impact that skin diseases have on individuals, economies and society and to ensure that patients receive the holistic care they need, including mental health support. Eliminating stigma across the field is of paramount importance to really improve the life of the many patients living with skin diseases, so we call on policymakers to take concerted action to address both the physical and psychological burden of skin diseases.”

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