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Sclerotic Skin Diseases Often Have Psychosocial Impact

Last Updated: September 21, 2009.

The chronic sclerotic skin diseases eosinophilic fasciitis and morphea can be accompanied by physical pain, psychological distress, perceived social stigmatization, and other impacts that combine to impair the patient's quality of life, according to a study in the September issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

MONDAY, Sept. 21 (HealthDay News) -- The chronic sclerotic skin diseases eosinophilic fasciitis and morphea can be accompanied by physical pain, psychological distress, perceived social stigmatization, and other impacts that combine to impair the patient's quality of life, according to a study in the September issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

Elisabeth B.M. Kroft, M.D., of the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre in the Netherlands, and colleagues gave questionnaires to 120 patients with eosinophilic fasciitis or morphea who were diagnosed between 1994 and 2007. The questionnaire elicited self-reports on the impact of the chronic sclerotic skin diseases on the patients' daily lives. Seventy-four completed questionnaires of the 120 distributed were judged suitable for analysis.

The researchers found that the patients with the sclerotic skin diseases generally suffered impaired psychological functioning, particularly those with generalized disease (as opposed to localized). The degree of psychological distress was significantly related to the severity of the disease, the existence of pain and fatigue, the disease impact on daily life, perceived social stigmatization, feelings of helplessness, and perceived lack of social support. Twenty-eight of the respondents (38 percent) were judged to be at risk for anxiety and depression.

"Physical and psychosocial aspects play a substantial role in the quality of life for patients with morphea. Physicians should be encouraged to assess the physical and psychosocial factors when treating patients with sclerotic skin diseases. This approach could improve quality of life and ultimately lead to improved dermatological treatment outcomes," the authors write.

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