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The Skin is often a ‘Window’ Into Underlying Endocrine Disorder

Presented on March 5, 2017 at the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) Annual Meeting by Henry Lim, MD, incoming president of the AAD and chair of its Burden of Skin Disease Work Group from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, and his colleagues from a publication on February 27 in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, proposed that the prevalence and cost of skin disease in the United States are increasing and will continue to do so as the population ages.The most surprising finding is that half of these skin disease categories in some patients resulted in mortality.

Skin disease in the US is staggering, affecting one in every four Americans each year and taking a toll on lives, livelihood, and the economy. Claims were highest for noncancerous skin growths (benign neoplasms, keloids, scars, cysts), at 7.81%, cutaneous infections (5.75%), and viral and fungal diseases (5.75%). Claims were lowest for bullous diseases (0.05%), vitiligo (0.05%), and cutaneous lymphoma (0.02%). Americans older than 65 years were more likely to make a claim for skin disease than those 18 to 44 years (49.4% vs 34.0%). And, on average, people in the older age group had 2.2 skin diseases.

Although it is difficult to make direct comparisons data because of differences in methodologies, there was a clear increase in the incidence of skin disease between 2004 and 2013  and it is expected to get worse with the aging population. Healthcare costs related to skin disease rose 170% from 2004 to 2013, owing to new treatments, rising costs, and regulatory changes. In 2013, direct healthcare costs were $75 billion, with another $11 billion attributed to lost opportunity costs.

Spending on over-the-counter products saw the biggest increase: 308%. But spending on prescription medicine has also soared.

In response to the report, the AAD is launching “SkinSerious”, a campaign to raise awareness of skin disease that will focus on prevention.

The most deadly disease is melanoma which can be prevented in a large number of cases.,

Part of the campaign of “SkinSerious” is designed to increase partnerships with primary care physicians and expand access to dermatologists, who now treat only one-third of patients with skin diseases.

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