Children with eczema have the same impaired quality of life as those with kidney disease

July 18, 2006

Children with serious skin conditions feel their quality of life is impaired to the same extent as those with chronic illnesses such as epilepsy, renal disease and diabetes, according to research published in the July issue of British Journal of Dermatology. A team of Scottish researchers surveyed 379 five to 16 year-olds, who had been suffering from skin diseases like acne, eczema and psoriasis for more than six months, together with their parents.

They asked the children and their parents how much the condition impaired the child's quality of life when it came to factors such as pain, loss of sleep, dietary restrictions, interference with school and play, friendships, teasing and bullying and medical treatment.

They then compared the quality of life scores given by the parents of 161 children with chronic diseases in the same age group.

Only six of the 546 parents approached by staff at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee and Perth Royal Infirmary preferred not to take part in the research. All the children included were attending outpatient clinics at the two hospitals.

Key findings included: "Our study shows that children with chronic skin diseases - and their parents - reported the same level of quality of life impairment as the parents of children with many other chronic illnesses" says lead author Dr Paula Beattie from the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow.

"Skin diseases are often more obvious to other children than chronic diseases such as asthma or diabetes and are more likely to lead to alienation, name calling, teasing and bullying.

"Some skin conditions can also disturb children's sleep and cause lack of self-confidence, embarrassment and poor self-esteem, especially as they get older.

"Although skin diseases may not shorten life in the same way as serious conditions like cystic fibrosis, they can cause children as much, if not more, distress in their everyday lives."

"Measuring quality of life can be a powerful political tool as it provides the patient's perspective on the health impact of different diseases" adds co-author Dr Sue Lewis-Jones from Ninewells Hospital, Dundee.

"This is particularly important when arguing for vital resources, especially in dermatology, as skin diseases are not considered to have as much of an impact on people's lives as other illnesses.

"Our study clearly shows the profound effect skin diseases can have on children's quality of life and we hope that our findings will raise awareness of the problems they face and encourage greater sensitivity towards them."
-end-


Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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