Skin disease and handicap: an analysis of the impact of skin conditions

Soc Sci Med. 1985;20(4):425-9. doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(85)90021-8.


This research sought to quantify the handicapping effect of skin conditions in a far more rigorous way than had previously been attempted. One hundred people who had attended a hospital outpatient clinic during a specified period for treatment of their acne, psoriasis or eczema were interviewed in their homes. A comprehensive and structured interview schedule was used and interviewees were encouraged to talk at length about the impact that their skin conditions had had on their lives. Detailed data were collected that show the serious effect that these diseases can have in several domains. The findings record not only the physical discomfort and inconvenience sufferers may meet but also the consequences for their personal and social life and daily functioning. There is evidence from interviewees' employment experiences of limited opportunities, and functional and interpersonal difficulties in the workplace. 64% of people said that their skin disease affected their socio-economic activity. The extent to which sufferers experienced embarrassment, anxiety, a lack of confidence and depression is documented. 40% of people felt that their social life was affected and there was evidence of particular stresses and demands in personal relationships. The social impact of skin disease is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / psychology
  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Eczema / psychology
  • Employment
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pruritus / psychology
  • Psoriasis / psychology
  • Sick Role*
  • Skin Diseases / psychology*
  • Social Adjustment