Background Previous studies on prevalence of skin diseases in the population have been based on clinical examination of a sample of the population. A questionnaire on self-reported skin complaints has recently been developed and validated for use in population surveys, but has not been used until now.
Objectives To quantify the skin morbidity in an adult urban population assessed by a newly developed self-measurement instrument, and to explore the associations between skin morbidity and sociodemographic factors in the community.
Methods The study was a population-based cross-sectional study carried out in the city of Oslo. Adult participants (n = 18 770) aged 30–76 years answered a questionnaire giving information on self-reported skin complaints, and which included demographic, psychosocial and general health variables.
Results Itch was the dominating skin complaint in all age groups. Adjusted odds ratios for itch, self-reported hand eczema and self-reported acne showed significant associations with female gender and reporting households of middle income. There was no association with employment categories.
Conclusions This study shows that skin complaints referring to the most common chronic skin diseases varied with age, gender and marital status, and worsened with middle-income household. It provides evidence that household income is associated with skin morbidity, bringing dermatological aspects to studies on health inequalities.