Eczema: How skin diseases can produce sleep disturbances

Evan Walker
Evan Walker TheMediTary.Com |
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Experts say itching and other effects from skin conditions can disrupt a person’s sleep. Lucas Ottone/Stocksy
  • About 900 million people globally have a skin disease at any given time.
  • Many skin conditions can be painful or chronically itchy, causing discomfort.
  • Researchers at the EADV Congress 2023 report that 42% of people around the world with skin disease experience sleep disturbances.
  • Scientists found these sleep disturbances had far-reaching implications for a person’s overall life, including work productivity and daytime fatigue.

Researchers estimate that about Health Organization" rationale="Highly respected international organization">900 million people worldwide have a skin disease at any given time.

There are more than 3,000 known skin diseases. Some of the most common types of skin conditions include acne, contact dermatitis, psoriasis, rosacea, and atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema.

Depending on the type and severity of the skin condition, many can impact a person’s life by causing stress or depression. Many skin conditions can also be painful or chronically itchy, causing discomfort.

Now, a team of researchers recently presented a study at the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EADV) Congress 2023 stating that 42% of people around the world with skin disease experience sleep disturbances with potential implications on their overall quality of life.

The findings haven’t been published yet in a peer-reviewed journal.

The research results were taken from a comprehensive international research initiative called the ALL PROJECT, which analyzed information from more than 17,000 adults in 20 countries to assess the impact of skin diseases.

When examining the data, the research team reported that 42% of respondents with skin disease experienced sleep disturbances. The main symptoms impacting respondents’ sleep were itching (60%) and burning sensations or tingling (17%).

Scientists found these sleep disturbances have broader implications on everyday life. For example, 49% of respondents reported reduced productivity at work, compared to 19% of respondents without a skin disease.

Additionally, respondents with skin disease were more likely to experience fatigue as soon as they wake from sleep, periods of drowsiness during the day, tingling sensations in their eyes, and repeated yawning than respondents who did not have a skin disease.

“Moving forward, healthcare providers should be encouraged to integrate sleep disturbance questions into the examinations of patients with skin conditions to foster a more comprehensive understanding of the impact of skin diseases,” said Dr. Bruno Halioua, a dermatologist in private practice in Paris, France, and one of the authors of the study.

“Ultimately, the ALL PROJECT aims to spotlight the impact of skin diseases and associated patient experiences so we can mitigate these adverse effects and improve the quality of life for patients,” he told Medical News Today.

This is not the first study to tie sleep disturbances to skin conditions such as eczema.

A study published in November 2021 reported a high prevalence of sleep disorders in people with skin disorders, which many times lead to reduced daytime performance, impaired sleep among the patients’ relatives, and increased use of substances.

A literature review published in February 2023 noted that sleep disturbances in people with chronic inflammatory skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis and psoriasis may also worsen the condition’s inflammation.

Additionally,, another review published in August 2020 examined the correlation between skin disease and obstructive sleep apnea.

In addition, the types of medications a person is taking for a skin disease may also impact their sleep. A review published in June 2023 observed that some medications primarily used for skin conditions have been associated with alterations to a person’s sleep-wake cycle.

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