Skip to navigation Skip to main content Skip to footer

Approved Research

Mental illness in atopic eczema and psoriasis: how big is the problem and why does it happen

Principal Investigator: Dr Alasdair Henderson
Approved Research ID: 74311
Approval date: July 15th 2022

Lay summary


To explore why adults with eczema and psoriasis are more likely to develop mental illness and identify who is at greatest risk of mental health problems.


Mental illness is more common in people with skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, but we do not know why. Possible causes include socioeconomic deprivation, poor sleep quality, poor lifestyle choices or inflammation. Identifying the types of people most at risk of mental illness would help target screening to identify psychological distress at those who need it most. Earlier recognition and management of mental illness would help improve people's lives.


We will look at people with and without skin conditions to see how much more likely those with skin conditions are to develop mental illness. Then we will look in detail to identify the risk factors and people with skin conditions most affected. We will use information from a large study of adults across the UK (UK Biobank). Biobank includes over half a million adults who are being followed over time from an initial comprehensive questionnaires and health assessments. Biobank has collected information on important measures (including sleep quality) that might explain why people with skin conditions are more likely to have mental illness.


24 months


We expect that the knowledge generated by our project will serve as a 'call to arms' for doctors, researchers and policy makers, highlighting the importance of identifying mental illness in those with visible and potentially stigmatising skin conditions. It will also offer opportunities to identify risk factors contributing to mental illness (such as sleep problems) that we might be able to change, and people who would particularly benefit from targeted mental illness screening. This knowledge will help us identify mental illness in people with skin conditions earlier and manage it better, limiting their impact and cost, promoting a holistic approach to managing skin conditions.