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Keywords:

  • diagnostic index;
  • general population;
  • prevalence;
  • Romanian schoolchildren;
  • skin conditions

Virtually nothing is known about the prevalence of skin conditions in children in the general population. Although we know something about the relative frequency of skin conditions seen by dermatologists, we do not know how such referrals are influenced by factors such as social class, accessibility to medical services or educational and cultural background. In order to estimate the burden and relative frequency of dermatological disease in children in the community, we measured the point prevalence of skin conditions in 1114 Romanian schoolchildren aged 6–12 years, using the British Association of Dermatologists diagnostic index. The overall point prevalence of children with one or more skin diseases was 22.8%, with no significant differences according to age group or sex, except for pityriasis alba which showed a male predominance (P = 0.007). The most common diseases were infectious dermatoses such as viral warts and insect bites (6.3%), dermatitis/eczema (5.1%), pityriasis alba (5.1%), keratosis pilaris (4.0%) and urticaria (1.9%). Together, these five groups accounted for more than 84% of the cases. Of the 1114 children, 213 (19.1%) had only one skin disease and 41 (3.7%) had two skin diseases. While acknowledging the limitations in defining which skin conditions can benefit from medical care, this study suggests that skin disorders are common in Romanian schoolchildren, affecting about one-quarter of 6–12 year olds. Such a point prevalence is likely to be conservative because of the tendency of prevalence estimates to exclude many other dermatoses of short duration. The finding that over 80% of the disorders can be grouped into fewer than six categories is important in informing training programmes and delivery of service for primary health care teams. This study provides a baseline for further studies into the morbidity and use of health care services by children with skin disease in the community.