Skin is our body’s largest organ.
Hair and nails are also types of skin, and fall under this body system.
Skin diseases have been stigmatized for centuries. In biblical times, societies cast out lepers, fearing they were “unclean.” Often, people with other skin diseases, such as psoriasis or eczema, were also shunned, reflecting people’s ignorance, prejudice and fear.
Because many skin disorders can be difficult to hide, people must not only deal with the symptoms of their illness, but also how others react. Many conditions are chronic and long-lasting and a person’s quality of life can be significantly impacted.
Skin diseases are more common than one might expect – every year 1 in 4 people will consult their primary care physician regarding a skin concern.[i] Even familiar conditions like acne can have a significant emotional impact on those who have dealt with it.[ii]
Some different skin disorders are:
- – Psoriasis: is an autoimmune disease causing red, scaly and raised patches on the skin
- – Rosacea: is a chronic condition causing parts of the face (and sometimes neck, chest and scalp) to get red, and have blood vessels and bumps appear.
- – Cystic (severe) acne: when pores in the skin of the face (and sometimes the upper trunk and arms) are blocked, become inflamed and infected.
- – Eczema or Atopic Dermatitis is an itchy red rash that may appear anywhere on the body. It affects children and adults and may present as mild, moderate or severe.
- – Vitiligo: a disorder that causes cells of one’s skin to lose pigment resulting in white patches on the skin.
- – Albinism is a disorder present from birth that causes a partial or complete lack of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes. It also results in vision problems that cannot be corrected.
- – People with skin disorders face higher rates of severe depression and issues with self-esteem.[iii]
- – Children with skin disorders experience much higher rates of bullying, which can lead to social withdrawal, underperformance and refusal to attend school
- – 60% of young patients with skin conditions report being teased and bullied[iv]
- – Family relationships can be negatively affected, and a significant number of adults report decreased sexual functioning.[v]
- – 34% report experiencing limitations in recreational activities because of their skin.[vi]
Chronic skin conditions have a major impact on a patient’s quality of life, and stigma adds to this burden.
[iv] Lawson V, Lewis-Jones MS, Finlay AY, Reid P, Owens RG. The family impact of childhood atopic dermatitis: the dermatitis family impact questionnaire. Br J Dermatol 1998: 138: 107–113.
[v] Hong, J., Koo, B. and Koo, J. (2008), The psychosocial and occupational impact of chronic skin disease. Dermatologic Therapy, 21: 54–59.
[vi] Lawson V, Lewis-Jones MS, Finlay AY, Reid P, Owens RG. The family impact of childhood atopic dermatitis: the dermatitis family impact questionnaire. Br J Dermatol 1998: 138: 107–113.