Skin symptoms, somatic diseases and their impact on mental health

15 June 2020


Skin symptoms increase mental health illness by


There has recently been interest to better understand how chronic itching—one of the most troublesome symptoms of psoriasis—impacts the quality of life among people living with the disease. Chronic and intense itching has been strongly linked to mental health comorbidities when compared to those without itching symptoms (1).

A large recent study showed how skin psoriasis and somatic diseases (beyond skin) impact mental health. This study, published in JAMA (2), included about 100,000 individuals and found that the presence of somatic diseases doubled the risk of mental health comorbidities. Skin symptoms increased the risk of mental health illness by a third (32% increased risk). The researchers concluded that somatic illness may be even more harmful to mental health wellbeing than skin symptoms alone.

This study’s findings support the recognition and improvement of management of skin symptoms including itch and most importantly the need to involve multidisciplinary care for people living with psoriasis.


1. Dalgard FJ, Svensson Å, Halvorsen JA, Gieler U, Schut C, Tomas-Aragones L, et al. Itch and Mental Health in Dermatological Patients across Europe: A Cross-Sectional Study in 13 Countries. J Invest Dermatol [Internet]. 2020 Mar 1;140(3):568–73. Available from: https://doi. org/10.1016/j.jid.2019.05.034

2. Geale K, Henriksson M, Jokinen J, Schmitt-Egenolf M. Association of Skin Psoriasis and Somatic Comorbidity With the Development of Psychiatric Illness in a Nationwide Swedish Study. JAMA Dermatology [Internet]. 2020 Jun 3; Available from: