Background: Although skin diseases are often immediately visible to both patients and society, the morbidity they cause is only poorly defined. It has been suggested that quality-of-life measures may be a relevant surrogate measure of skin disease. Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) leads to painful eruptions and malodorous discharge and is assumed to cause a significant degree of morbidity. The resulting impairment of life quality has not previously been quantitatively assessed, although such an assessment may form a pertinent measure of disease severity in HS.
Objectives: To measure the impairment of life quality in patients with HS.
Methods: In total, 160 patients suffering from HS were approached. The following data were gathered: quality-of-life data (Dermatology Life Quality Index, DLQI questionnaire), basic demographic data, age at onset of the condition and the average number of painful lesions per month.
Results: One hundred and fourteen patients participated in the study. The mean +/- SD age of the patients was 40.9 +/- 11.7 years, the mean +/- SD age at onset 21.8 +/- 9.9 years and the mean +/- SD duration of the disease 18.8 +/- 11.4 years. Patients had a mean +/- SD DLQI score of 8.9 +/- 8.3 points. The highest mean score out of the 10 DLQI questions was recorded for question 1, which measures the level of pain, soreness, stinging or itching (mean 1.55 points, median 2 points). Patients experienced a mean of 5.1 lesions per month.
Conclusions: HS causes a high degree of morbidity, with the highest scores obtained for the level of pain caused by the disease. The mean DLQI score for HS was higher than for previously studied skin diseases, and correlated with disease intensity as expressed by lesions per month. This suggests that the DLQI may be a relevant outcome measure in future therapeutic trials in HS.