Physical, Psychological and Ethical issues in Caring for Individuals with Genetic Skin Disease


Dr. Diane C. Seibert, Uniformed Services University, Graduate School of Nursing, 4301 Jones Bridge Road, Bethesda, MD 20814. E-mail:


Purpose: Some forms of genetic skin disease are highly prevalent and others are exceedingly rare, but collectively, genetic skin disorders (or genodermatoses) are often poorly understood. The purpose of this article, therefore, is to increase nurses’ awareness and understanding of some of the physical, psychological, social, and ethical issues facing patients with inherited skin disorders.

Organizing Construct: This article offers an overview of genetic skin diseases; highlights the complexity and prevalence of the genodermatoses; describes inheritance patterns, genetics, and treatment for six genodermatoses; and reviews some of the ethical, privacy, technological, and resource issues nurses should consider when caring for patients with genetic skin disorders.

Conclusions: Because genodermatoses are found in all age groups, across all populations, and within all healthcare settings, nurses are uniquely positioned to address the educational and healthcare needs of patients and families with inherited skin disorders.

Clinical Relevance: Over the past two decades, genetics has evolved from a niche specialty into general practice. To ensure that patients and their families receive appropriate services and resources, nurses must have a working knowledge of genetic concepts. This article reinforces key genetic concepts while discussing many of the issues and concerns important to caring for patients with genetic skin disease.