Impaired quality of life in adults and children with scabies from an impoverished community in Brazil

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Abstract

Background

Scabies is highly prevalent in resource-poor communities in developing countries and is associated with considerable morbidity in this setting. How the parasitic skin disease impairs the quality of life of patients has rarely been investigated.

Methodology

A modified Dermatology Life Quality Index (mDLQI) was developed to assess the quality of life in adults and children with scabies living in an urban slum in Fortaleza, capital of Ceará State, Brazil. A total of 105 patients with scabies (58 children and 57 adults) were included in the study. The diagnosis was made by dermatoscopy, skin scraping, and adhesive film test.

Results

Feelings of shame was the restriction most frequently noted (adults 77.2% and children 46.6%). Other types of quality of life impairment were the need to dress differently (35.1 vs. 29.3%), restriction on leisure activities (24.6 vs. 36.8%), social exclusion (24.6 vs. 17.9%), stigmatization (21.1 vs. 25.0%), teasing (only children: 26.3%), and problems with sexual partners (only adults: 10.9%). Women and girls perceived more restrictions than men and boys. mDLQI scores indicated that 13.9% of the patients noticed a large or very large effect on their life, 65.2% considered their quality of life lightly or moderately reduced by scabies, and 20.9% did not feel any restrictions. The degree of impairment increased parallel to the degree of itching and severity of scabies (P = 0.003).

Limitations

Owing to active case finding, most of the patients were in an early phase of scabies, and clinical pathology was not very pronounced.

Conclusion

Scabies considerably impaired the quality of life in adults and children living in poverty in an urban slum. Females particularly suffered from restrictions.

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