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Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2016 Oct 20;9:383-392. eCollection 2016.

The psychosocial impact of acne, vitiligo, and psoriasis: a review.

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University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, Irvine.
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles.
Department of Dermatology, University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, San Francisco.
Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine, Vallejo, CA, USA.



Chronic skin conditions have been well reported to affect a patient's quality of life on multiple dimensions, including the psychosocial domain. Psychosocial is defined as the interrelation of social factors with an individual's thoughts and behavior. The assessment of the psychosocial impact of skin disease on a patient can help direct the dermatologists' treatment goals. To evaluate the psychosocial impact of skin disease, we conducted a review of the literature on three skin conditions with onsets at various stages of life: acne, vitiligo, and psoriasis.


A PubMed search was conducted in March 2015 using the terms "psychosocial" AND "acne", "psychosocial" AND "vitiligo", and "psychosocial" AND "psoriasis". The results were limited to articles published in English in the past 5 years studying patients of all ages. Results and their references were evaluated for relevance according to their discussion of psychosocial qualities in their patients and the validity of psychosocial assessments. The search for acne yielded 51 results, and eleven were found to be relevant; vitiligo yielded 30 results with ten found to be relevant; and psoriasis yielded 70 results with seven found to be relevant.


According to the articles evaluated, 19.2% of adolescent patients with acne were affected in their personal and social lives. Social phobia was present in 45% of patients with acne compared to 18% of control subjects. Race and sex played a role in self-consciousness and social perceptions of the disease. Vitiligo negatively affected marriage potential and caused relationship problems in >50% of patients. Psoriasis negatively affected multiple domains of life, including work, relationships, and social activities. Anxiety and depression affected not only psoriasis patients but also their cohabitants; up to 88% of cohabitants had an impaired quality of life.


Though all three skin conditions resulted in an increase in anxiety and depression among their patient populations, the psychosocial focus varied slightly for each disease. Overall, acne, vitiligo, and psoriasis can have negative psychosocial impact in different stages of life development.


acne; psoriasis; psychosocial; vitiligo

Conflict of interest statement

Dr John YM Koo is a speaker and/or consultant for Abbvie, Celgene, Jassen, Leo, Novartis and Promius Pharma. The authors report no other conflicts of interest in this work.

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