The impact of visible scars on well-being and quality of life: An international epidemiological survey in adults

J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2023 Mar:37 Suppl 3:3-6. doi: 10.1111/jdv.18856.


Introduction: Scars are visible marks from various causes, including surgery, skin injury, burning or dermatological disease, and may impact the quality of life.

Objective: To assess the impact of scars on quality of life (QoL).

Material and methods: Data about sociodemography, presence, origin, and symptoms of scars were collected using an Internet survey between April and May 2020. Overall, 11,100 individuals answered the survey. In total, 48.5% of the responders had at least one scar of less than 1 year of age. Scars were mainly reported on the abdomen and face. Globally, 28.9% of subjects with recent scars reported pain, 23.7% reported burning, 35.0% reported itching, and 44.1% reported redness. Subjects were most frequently bothered by the visibility of their scars and the presence of marks. Incidences were significantly higher than for those with older scars. The average DLQI score was 7.44; it decreased to 2.90 after 1 year. Subjects with scars aged less than 3 months had their QoL more frequently impacted (33.9%) than those with scars aged 12 months or more (10.2%). In subjects reporting skin discomfort, clinical symptoms significantly impacted body movement, choice of clothes, leisure activities, and sexual life more than in those reporting no skin discomfort. Moreover, subjects felt significantly more impacted in their daily lives due to their skin discomfort. When feeling bothered by the visibility of their scars, significantly more subjects were also impacted in their body movement, choice of clothes, leisure activities, and sexual life than those subjects who did not feel bothered. Moreover, significantly more subjects felt embarrassed.

Conclusion: Scars significantly impact the subjects' quality of life. This impact is even more important when caused by recent and visible scars, with a lower DLQI score in subjects with more aged than in those with recent scars.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cicatrix* / etiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Pruritus / complications
  • Pruritus / etiology
  • Quality of Life
  • Skin Diseases* / complications
  • Skin Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires