• Dermatology Life Quality Index;
  • impairment;
  • primary care;
  • quality of life;
  • skin disease

Background Although 75% of skin problems are managed exclusively in primary care, most information on the impact of skin disease on quality of life is hospital based. Objectives To examine the ease of use of the Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI) in primary care and to measure the handicap levels found, analysed by skin disease, sex and age. Methods The handicap levels identified were compared with those published for patients with the same conditions attending hospital clinics. Some conditions that rarely present in secondary care were also studied. Results The overall mean ± SD DLQI score was 7·37 ± 5·71 (women 7·8 ± 5·8, n = 196; men 6·8 ± 5·6, n = 145). The scores for separate diseases were similar in ranking and only slightly lower than those in hospital-based studies. The possibility of bias towards surveying an unrepresentative sample of patients is discussed. There was no correlation between age and DLQI score. Conclusions The DLQI proved easy to use in general practice. The impact of skin diseases on the quality of life of patients seen in primary care is comparable with that of patients seen in secondary care. This information could be used to inform the planning of services for these patients.