Background Chronic urticaria (CU), one of the most common skin disorders, is characterized by spontaneous recurrent bouts of weals and pruritus and associated with severely impaired quality of life (QoL).
Objectives To determine what aspects of life quality are affected and to characterize the factors that impact on QoL in CU patients.
Subjects and methods This interdisciplinary interview/questionnaire-based study included 100 patients admitted to a University Hospital Dermatology Department for the identification of underlying causes of CU; 96 healthy subjects matched for age and sex were used as controls. QoL was assessed using Skindex-29, a validated instrument to measure the effects of skin disease on overall QoL (composite score) and three defined QoL aspects (emotions, symptoms, functioning).
Results CU patients exhibited markedly reduced overall QoL compared with healthy control subjects. CU had distinct effects on the three QoL aspects assessed (functioning = emotions > symptoms). The age or sex of patients, the absence or presence of angio-oedemas, and the duration or cause of CU did not significantly influence QoL impairment. Interestingly, psychiatric comorbidity (depression, anxiety, somatoform disorders) was associated with a more pronounced reduction of QoL compared with CU patients without a psychiatric diagnosis and the severity of psychiatric disease was found to correlate with QoL impairment.
Conclusions Our data confirm that overall QoL is markedly reduced in CU patients. Social functioning and emotions were found to be the areas of QoL most affected in CU patients. Psychiatric comorbidity significantly increased QoL impairment, whereas QoL in CU patients was not significantly affected by age or sex, the absence or presence of angio-oedema, or the course or cause of CU.