Psychophysiological reactivity under mental stress in atopic dermatitis

Dermatology. 2005;210(4):286-93. doi: 10.1159/000084752.


Background: An association of mental stress with atopic dermatitis is widely accepted. However, no long-term evaluation of psychophysiological reactivity over the course of disease has yet been performed.

Objective: We examined whether atopic dermatitis patients have an increased psychophysiological reactivity compared to healthy controls and in between acute and disease-free phases, and whether they differ in psychological state and trait variables.

Methods: Fifteen patients with atopic dermatitis underwent a stress test during acute exacerbation and after symptom improvement and were compared to matched controls.

Results: Psychophysiological responses to stress were not stronger in the patient group than in the controls. Nevertheless, the patients had a higher heart rate and lower vagal activity throughout the resting and stress phases at both examination times. The patients showed significantly higher anxiety, depression and emotional excitability, and self-ratings of inactivity clearly distinguished acute phases from remission.

Conclusion: There is an increased vegetative excitability level in patients with atopic dermatitis, which cannot be attributed solely to increased disease activity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / diagnosis
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / epidemiology
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / psychology*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Hemodynamics / physiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Probability
  • Prognosis
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / epidemiology
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / psychology
  • Reference Values
  • Risk Assessment
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Distribution
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Stress, Psychological / diagnosis*
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology