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The Impact of Atopic Dermatitis on Quality of Life

The Impact of Atopic Dermatitis on Quality of Life

It is estimated that at least 3% of the U.S. population has atopic dermatitis (AD), the chronic, inflammatory skin condition that is characterized by an intense itching. The prevalence of AD in U.S. adults has been estimated as possibly as high as 10%, with some people having adult-onset AD and others having persistent AD that was diagnosed in infancy or childhood. As anyone who deals with chronic AD can attest, the condition can impact a person’s quality of life.

Recently, researchers quantified the impact of AD on quality of life, on mood and sleep, and on work productivity through a clinical study that was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Data was collected through the U.S. National Health and Wellness Survey, and the study data on people with AD was compared to people without skin disease and others with psoriasis, another chronic, inflammatory skin disease that is widely recognized as having a significant impact on patients’ lives.1

Impact of atopic dermatitis on mood and sleep disorders

Approximately one-third of the people with AD reported mood and sleep disorders, which is almost twice the rate reported by people who don’t have a skin disorder.


Having AD seems to have a greater impact on mood and sleep disorders than psoriasis does, with more people with AD reporting mood and sleep disorders than those with psoriasis.


Impact of atopic dermatitis on mental and physical quality of life

In assessing quality of life, higher scores on each of the scales indicate a better health status. The mean score for mental quality of life of those with AD was 44.5, compared to 48.0 for healthy people without skin disease. For physical quality of life, people with AD had a mean score of 47.5 versus healthy people with a score of 49.5.1 Compared to those with psoriasis, AD had a similar impact on quality of life. The differences between the scores of people with AD and those without skin disease reveal the mental and physical burden of AD that results in reduced vitality, less social functioning, or emotional well being.

Impact of atopic dermatitis on work productivity

AD had a similar affect on work productivity. Compared to employees without skin disease, people with AD had higher absenteeism (9.9% vs 3.6%). They also had less presenteeism – an assessment of a person’s impairment at work due to their health problems. People with AD reported 21.1% presenteeism versus 16.1% of healthy people. Taking into account the absenteeism and presenteeism, the mean annual indirect costs for having AD were approximately $2,400 higher than for people without skin disease. Psoriasis had a similar impact on work productivity and indirect costs as AD.1

Importance of this data

The data from this study may be validating to those with AD, giving proof to the challenges they face in dealing with the chronic disease. This study is also significant because it provides data to support the need for additional funding and research into the causes and treatments for AD.

  1. Eckert L, et al. Impact of atopic dermatitis on health-related quality of life and productivity in adults in the United States: An analysis using the National Health and Wellness Survey. J Am Acad Derm. Aug 2017;77(2):274-279.e3.