Skin disease linked with sleep disturbances

3 minute read

The fallout goes beyond fatigue, affecting people’s work productivity, according to dermatologists.

Almost half of patients with skin disease experience sleep disturbances, according to a large study presented last week at the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EADV) Congress 2023. 

Itching, burning and tingling of skin were reported as the main symptoms that impacted the sleep of patients with skin disease.  

The ALL PROJECT, a wide-ranging international research initiative, analysed more than 50,000 adults across 20 countries to assess the impact of skin diseases. 

The researchers found sleep disturbances had broader implications on patients’ quality of life, with nearly half (49%) of patients with skin disease reporting reduced productivity at work, compared with one in five (19%) participants without a skin disease. 

The main symptoms that impacted the sleep of patients with skin disease were itching (60%) and burning sensations or tingling (17%).  

Patients more frequently experienced a feeling of fatigue as soon as they woke up (81% vs 64% in the non-skin disease population), periods of drowsiness during the day (83% vs 71%), tingling sensations in the eyes (58% vs 42%) and repeated yawning (72% vs 58%). 

Lead author Dr Charles Taieb said the study was the first to uncover the profound impact of sleep disturbances on the physical functioning of patients with skin disease. 

“These findings underscore the critical need for early detection and effective management of sleep disturbances,” he said. 

Based in France, Dr Taieb is head of the European Market Maintenance Assessment, a company which set up and managed the ALL PROJECT for Pierre Fabre’s Patient Centricity department.  

French dermatologist and co-author Dr Bruno Halioua said healthcare providers should be encouraged to integrate sleep disturbance questions into the examinations of patients with skin conditions to foster a more comprehensive understanding of the impact of skin diseases.  

“Ultimately, the ALL PROJECT aims to spotlight the impact of skin diseases and associated patient experiences so we can mitigate these adverse effects and improve the quality of life for patients,” he said. 

The ALL PROJECT study also investigated the impact of living with hidradenitis suppurativa, an extremely painful skin disease that is often difficult to manage. 

Findings from the study showed that 77% of patients with hidradenitis suppurativa reported a feeling of stigmatisation due to their condition, with 58% experiencing ostracisation or rejection from others. More than half of patients reported that people avoided touching them (57%) and approaching them (54%) because of their condition. 

These experiences led to significant consequences for patients, impacting their self-perception, relationships and daily lives. 

Patients with reported feelings of stigmatisation were more likely to avoid taking selfies (52%), compared with those without the condition (84%), and tended to control their appearance whenever they passed in front of a mirror (72% vs 34%). 

Nearly 79% of patients who exhibited poor adherence to therapy also reported a feeling of stigma. 

“The stigmatisation associated with this condition profoundly impacts patients’ lives and can perpetuate a vicious cycle of isolation and non-adherence to treatment,” said Dr Halioua. 

“The study highlights the need for immediate action, including public education efforts to increase understanding and improved access to tailored healthcare and support services for patients with hidradenitis suppurativa.” 

The results support findings of Australian research published in the Australasian Journal of Dermatology in August last year, which revealed the impact of hidradenitis suppurativa on quality of life was worse than that of heart attack or inflammatory bowel disease. 

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