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Br J Dermatol. 2007 Jun;156(6):1346-9.

Prevalence of physical symptoms of itch, pain and fatigue in patients with skin diseases in general practice.

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Department of Medical Psychology, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.



Physical symptoms of skin diseases have been shown to negatively affect patients' wellbeing. Although insight into physical symptoms accompanying skin diseases is relevant for the management and treatment of skin diseases, the prevalence of physical symptoms among patients with skin diseases is a rather unexplored territory.


The goal of the present study was to examine the prevalence of physical symptoms of itch, pain and fatigue in patients with skin diseases.


On the basis of a systematic morbidity registration system in primary care, questionnaires were sent to 826 patients with skin diseases. Eventually, questionnaires from 492 patients were suitable for our analyses.


Results indicated that patients with skin diseases particularly experience symptoms of itch and fatigue. Approximately 50% of all patients report experiencing these symptoms and about 25% experience these symptoms as relatively severe. Pain was relatively less frequently reported by 23% of all patients, and was on average somewhat less intense. The physical symptoms showed relatively strong correlations with disease-related quality of life and self-reported disease severity. In contrast, only moderate correlations were found with comorbidity and demographic variables, which suggests that the physical symptoms of itch, pain and fatigue are consequences of the skin diseases.


Itch and fatigue and, to a somewhat lesser extent, pain have a high prevalence among patients with skin diseases. Clinicians should be encouraged to carefully assess itch, pain and fatigue in patients with skin diseases, and where appropriate focus treatment to these symptoms.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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