Complementary and alternative medicine therapies in acne, psoriasis, and atopic eczema: results of a qualitative study of patients' experiences and perceptions

J Altern Complement Med. 2006 Jun;12(5):451-7. doi: 10.1089/acm.2006.12.451.


Objectives: The aim of this study was to explore the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies in patients with acne, psoriasis, or atopic eczema and the attitudes about CAM of these patients.

Design: This was a qualitative study, utilizing semistructured interviews and thematic analysis.

Setting: Patients were recruited from the practices of dermatologists and general practitioners in a noncapital Australian city.

Results: Twenty-six (26) interviews were conducted with patients with acne, 29 with psoriasis, and 7 with atopic eczema. Use of CAM therapies was common. Participants tended to value CAM over orthodox therapies because of their preference for natural approaches to their skin diseases and the perceived lesser potential for adverse effects of CAM therapies. Respondents with acne were more confident about the efficacy of CAM than were those with psoriasis or eczema. The resulting sense of control attenuated psychologic sequelae of acne. This was not apparent in psoriasis or eczema.

Conclusions: Practitioners should be cognizant of the likely use of CAM and its implications (including the potential for attenuation of psychologic morbidity) in their patients who have skin diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / diagnosis
  • Acne Vulgaris / therapy*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Australia
  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / diagnosis
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / therapy*
  • Diet Therapy / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Narration
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Phytotherapy / statistics & numerical data
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Psoriasis / diagnosis
  • Psoriasis / therapy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Trace Elements / therapeutic use
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use
  • Yoga


  • Plant Extracts
  • Trace Elements
  • Vitamins