News & Updates

Patients with a skin disease called ‘pemphigus vulgaris’, which causes severe blistering of the skin and of the ‘mucous membranes’ lining the mouth, nose, throat and genitals, have been found to have a lower quality of life even when their skin is clear, according to a recent study in the British Journal of Dermatology. Pemphigus vulgaris is an autoimmune disease, meaning the body’s immune system, which usually fights off infection, wrongly fights healthy cells – those in the skin and mucous membranes in the case of pemphigus. With appropriate treatment, long periods of ‘quiescent’ disease (where there are no physical symptom) are possible. The disease can have a significant impact on the patient’s quality of life and emotional wellbeing. This study, by researchers in Italy, involved 203 patients, of whom 47 did not currently have any lesions (blisters or sores), to see whether patients’ wellbeing is negatively affected at all times or just when lesions or blisters are present. They measured quality of life using the Skindex-17 questionnaire and psychological wellbeing using the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ12). They found that patients without lesions had a better quality of life than patients with active lesions, shown by a 30% reduction of the Skindex-17 scores in the lesion-free group (the lower the score, the better the quality of life). However, despite this reduction, their Skindex scores still remained high. The proportion of patients at risk of anxiety or depression, as indicated by their GHQ12 results, was 44% lower in patients without lesions compared to patients with lesions. However this still exceeds the levels found in the general population. The authors conclude that while patients without lesions reported a better quality of life than patients with lesions, their Skindex-17 scores did however remain elevated. Dermatologists should be aware that a clearing of the skin symptoms does not mean “perfect health” for the patient.

Full article: ‘Burden of disease during quiescent periods in patients with pemphigus’, British Journal of Dermatology, May 2014.