Visible Skin Diseases Prevalent in Women and Men

With many patients reporting visible skin disease on face or hands, it is important to consider quality of life when managing this population.

More than three-quarters of patients with a skin disease have involvement of the face and/or hands, researchers reported in study data published the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.

Investigators aimed to quantify the prevalence of apparent skin diseases based on 8 emblematic skin diseases (acne, psoriasis, eczema, vitiligo, ichthyosis, chronic hand eczema, rosacea, and hidradenitis suppurativa), which represent more than 50% of skin diseases. “An individual with a visible skin disease may feel worthless, uninteresting, ashamed, and self-reproachful,” they wrote.

Data were obtained from a representative sample of the general population older than 18 years of age from Canada, China, Italy, Spain, Germany, and France with use of stratified sampling. Quotas stratified by age and sex with strict cross-quotas, regions, and income levels were established for each country based on available sociodemographic data.

A total of 13,138 adults responded to a questionnaire — 3450 individuals (26.25%) reported having a skin disease, and 3042 (23.15%) reported having 1 of the 8 emblematic skin diseases. Among the responders, 6561 were women (mean age, 45.62±16.62 years), and 6577 were men (mean age, 45.02±16.85 years).

Our study sheds light on dermatoses located in a visible area, which generate stigmatization and withdrawal.

Of the responders who had 1 of the selected skin diseases, women had a slightly higher prevalence vs men (1632 [53.12%] vs 1440 [46.88%], respectively). Men had a significantly higher reported prevalence of hand involvement compared with women (37.36% vs 33.76%, respectively, P =.038), as well as an inverse reported prevalence of face involvement (45.63% vs 53.06%, respectively, P <.001).

The most frequent location of a skin disease on the hands was the back of the hand (50.60%), followed by the fingers (39.85%) and palms (29.94%), and 10.74% of responders reported nail involvement. Women reported dermatosis on the back of the hand significantly more frequently than men, and no significant sex difference was found for the other locations.

The most frequent locations overall on the face were the cheeks (51%), followed by the forehead (43%) and the chin (35.2%). The least common locations were the lips (10%) and ears (13.3%). About 1 in 5 participants (18.1%) reported scalp involvement. Dermatosis on the chin was significantly more common in women compared with men, and locations on the ear and the scalp were significantly more common in men. No significant sex difference was found regarding the other locations, investigators wrote.

Visible locations of dermatoses occur in about 17.6% of individuals. The overall prevalence rate of 1 of the 8 emblematic dermatoses located on the hands in the general population is 8.9%, it was noted.

“Our study sheds light on dermatoses located in a visible area, which generate stigmatization and withdrawal,” stated the researchers. “The higher prevalence of skin diseases of the hands in men and conversely the higher prevalence of skin diseases of the face in women could be explained by certain factors (even if things are changing) such as a more manual and physical work in men or the use, still more frequent compared to men, of facial cosmetics in women.”

Disclosure: This study was granted by the Patient Centricity Department of Pierre Fabre. Several of the study authors declared affiliations with biotech, pharmaceutical, and/or device companies. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures.


Cribier B, Saint Aroman M, Merhand S, et al. Prevalence of visible skin diseases: an international study of 13,138 people. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. Published online October 17, 2022. doi:10.1111/jdv.18666