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Epidemiology of Pediatric Dermatology and Allergology in the Region of Aargau, Switzerland

Authors


Peter H. Itin, PhD, Department of Dermatology, University of Basel, Petersgraben 4, 4031 Basel, Switzerland, or email: pitin@hin.ch.

Abstract

Abstract:  Pediatric dermatology is a new topic and no epidemiologic data exist from Switzerland. Therefore we performed a survey of the pediatric population referred to the hospital of Aarau, Switzerland, between 1998 and 2001. All inpatients and outpatients less than 16 years old with a dermatologic diagnosis were included prospectively in our study. Demographic data (age, mean age, sex distribution), referral method, pattern and frequency of the different diagnoses in various age groups, diagnostic pattern, and therapy were analyzed. A total of 1105 children were included, with a slightly higher proportion of girls (53.8% versus 46.2%). The average age was 6.8 years and infants and school children represented 60% of the study population. Half of the patients (51%) were external referrals, almost one-third (29%) presented spontaneously, and the remaining 20% were sent from other hospital departments. With a frequency of 25.9%, atopic dermatitis was the most frequent diagnosis, followed by pigmented nevi (9.1%) and warts (5.0%). Local therapy was prescribed in 66% of patients and systemic therapy in 18.6%. Other treatments such as curettage, surgery, cryotherapy, ultraviolet therapy, and electrotherapy were rarely performed (2%). We found that atopic dermatitis was the most frequent skin disorder seen in all age groups. As this was a dermatologic subspecialty clinic, higher frequencies of chronic and uncommon dermatoses such as genetic and autoimmune diseases were seen, whereas frequent diagnoses such as diaper rash and miliaria were rarely seen and the frequencies of other common skin disorders such as scabies, pediculosis, impetigo contagiosa, warts, and molluscum contagiosum were expected to be higher compared with the figures in the literature. In our study these dermatoses are underreported, as most patients are treated by general practitioners and pediatricians. Our survey documents the most common skin diseases in childhood primarily seen by pediatricians. We emphasize that dermatologic education of medical students, primary care physicians, and pediatricians should focus on allergic skin diseases, skin infections, pigmentary disorders, and vascular lesions.

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