Background The main dermatology textbooks describe only in passing pruritus in psoriasis and rarely mention other symptoms. A quantification of the presence of symptoms is not available for clinical subgroups of psoriasis.
Objectives To investigate the prevalence of symptoms experienced by patients with different clinical types of psoriasis.
Methods The study was carried out in patients hospitalized for psoriasis between February 2000 and February 2002 at the inpatient wards of the Istituto Dermopatico dell'Immacolata, Rome, Italy. Symptoms were evaluated using the symptoms scale of Skindex-29. Clinical severity was assessed by the dermatologists using the Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI), and by the patients completing the self-administered PASI. Psychiatric morbidity was evaluated using the 12-item General Health Questionnaire.
Results In total, 936 eligible patients were analysed. The proportions of patients experiencing symptoms often or always in the 4 weeks before hospitalization were: 63·8% itching, 59·7% irritation, 46·1% burning/stinging, 39% sensitivity, 26% pain (from 10% in guttate psoriasis to 50% in arthropathic), 25·4% bleeding (17% pustular, 19% localized plaque, 36% palmoplantar), and 23·9% bothered by water (from 8·5% in the guttate form to 68% in palmoplantar). The prevalence of all symptoms was significantly higher in women and tended to increase with clinical severity.
Conclusions Our study provides evidence of the high frequency of a number of symptoms in different subgroups of psoriasis patients determined by their sociodemographic characteristics, clinical type and disease severity. Symptoms represent a serious disabling factor in patients affected by psoriasis, including those with low levels of psychological distress. Dermatologists should include symptoms in the evaluation of disease severity both in clinical practice and in clinical trials.