This review describes the many ways in which skin disease can adversely affect the quality of life (QOL) of patients with skin disease. Measurement of this impact is required for clinical and health service research, and may be valuable in clinical practice and in the evaluation of new drug therapy. Methods of measuring QOL in dermatology are described. These include general health measures, dermatology specific measures such as the Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI), the Dermatology Quality of Life Scales (DQOLS), the Dermatology Specific Quality of Life (DSQL), and Skindex, and disease specific measures such as the Psoriasis Disability Index (PDI), the Psoriasis Life Stress Inventory (PLSI), and the Acne Disability Index (ADI). Instruments used for measuring QOL in children (the Children's Dermatology Life Quality Index (CDLQI)) and for measuring the impact of atopic dermatitis on the families of affected children (the Dermatitis Family Impact (DFI) questionnaire) are described. Reasons are given for the use of such measures in clinical practice.