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Keywords:

  • anorexia nervosa;
  • body image;
  • bulimia nervosa;
  • eating disorders;
  • skin appearance

Background We have recently observed that women with the eating disorders (EDs) anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa report a significantly greater (P = 0·002) dissatisfaction with the appearance of their skin than do non-clinical controls.Objectives To examine further the nature of the dissatisfaction with skin appearance in women with EDs.Methods Several psychosocial and body image parameters, including whether or not the subjects were satisfied with a wide range of attributes associated with non-diseased skin, were surveyed in women aged ≤ 30 years. Survey data from 32 women with EDs and 34 randomly selected community-based non-clinical controls were examined.Results Eighty-one per cent of the patients with EDs vs. 56% of the controls reported dissatisfaction with the appearance of their skin (P = 0·03), particularly with respect to its dryness and roughness. Other attributes that were rated more frequently were ‘bags’ and ‘darkness’ under the eyes, freckles, fine wrinkles and patchy hyperpigmentation.Conclusions There is a high prevalence of dissatisfaction with skin appearance among women aged ≤ 30 years, which is even higher among patients with EDs.