Association Between Atopic Dermatitis and Suicidality

Atopic dermatitis (AD), also known as eczema, is a chronic skin condition that causes the skin to become red, itchy, and scaly. The skin often cracks or swells, and can become sensitive and painful from scratching.1 Because AD is uncomfortable and so visible, the condition is often associated with accompanying emotional or psychological problems.2,3 The chronic, untreatable nature of AD has a large impact on a patient’s quality of life, affecting relationships, day-to-day activities, and emotional well-being.4 Anxiety and depression are common in patients with AD.2 In some cases, the emotional burden can lead to suicidality in patients with AD.4

Suicidality: Know the signs

Suicidality means that a person is at risk of taking his or her own life. Symptoms of suicidality include5:

  • Wanting to die or kill oneself
  • Feelings of hopelessness or having no reason to live
  • Feeling trapped or in pain
  • Feeling like a burden to others
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Anxious or reckless behavior
  • Changes in sleep habits
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Increased anger or rate
  • Mood swings

If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, it is important to get help immediately.5

Prevalence of suicidality in AD

It is already well understood that patients with AD are at greater risk for depression.6,7 In fact, a recent study by the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology found that one in five patients with AD also suffered from depression.6 Because of the increased risk for depression, it stands to reason that AD is also associated with an increased risk for suicidality. Studies have examined the connection and have found that patients with AD are more likely to experience suicidality than those without AD.3,8 In fact, one recent study concluded that patients with AD were 44% more likely to experience suicidality.3 And, the likelihood for actually attempting suicide was also found to be increased among AD patients, with the same study showing a 36% increase in suicide attempts among patients with AD versus those without AD.3,8


Because suicidality can frequently occur in patients with AD, it is important to be on the look out for signs and symptoms. Healthcare providers should be aware of the signs and symptoms and check in with patients to assess risk.4 Similarly, if you or someone you know suffers from AD. It is important to notice symptoms of anxiety or depression, and suicide risk factors. Don’t ignore these symptoms. Get help right away.5

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy. We never sell or share your email address.

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.
poll graphic

Community Poll

On an average day, how would you rate your level of anxiety related to atopic dermatitis?