Skin diseases are the fourth leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the Global Burden of Disease 2013 Study which appears online in JAMA Dermatology.
For the study, researchers estimated the global burden of skin disease as measured by disability-adjusted life years or DALYs, with one DALY equivalent to one year of healthy life lost.
Skin diseases account for 1.79 percent of the global burden of disease as measured in DALYS from 306 diseases and injuries in 2013, with skin and subcutaneous diseases responsible for 41.6 million DALYS that year.
Data were drawn from more than 4,000 sources including medical literature, population-based disease registries, hospital data, studies and autopsy data.
Skin diseases ranked in decreasing order by DALYS were: dermatitis (9.3 million DALYs), acne vulgaris (7.2 million DALYs), urticaria (hives, 4.7 million DALYs), psoriasis (4.7 million DALYs), viral skin diseases (such as viral warts, 4 million DALYs)), fungal skin diseases (3.8 million DALYs), scabies (1.7 million DALYs), melanoma (1.6 million DALYs), pyoderma and cellulitis (bacterial skin diseases, 1.1 million DALYs each), keratinocyte carcinoma (such as basal and squamous cell cancers, 820,000 DALYs), decubitus ulcer (bedsores, 660,000 DALYs) and alopecia areata (290,000 DALYs).
Overall, skin and subcutaneous diseases were the 18th leading cause of DALYs worldwide in the study and, excluding mortality, skin diseases were the fourth largest cause of disability worldwide.