Pain Is a Common and Burdensome Symptom of Atopic Dermatitis in United States Adults

Jonathan I. Silverberg, Joel M. Gelfand, David J. Margolis, Mark Boguniewicz, Luz Fonacier, Mitchell H. Grayson, Zelma C. Chiesa Fuxench, Eric L. Simpson, Peck Y. Ong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


Background: Atopic dermatitis (AD) is associated with skin pain. However, little is known about the prevalence and associations of pain in AD. Objective: To characterize the frequency, intensity, characteristics, and associations of pain from AD. Methods: A cross-sectional, US population internet survey-based study of 602 adults with AD from the AD in America Study was performed (modified UK Working Party Criteria). Results: Overall, 365 (61%) reported pain from AD, with 199 (33%) experiencing pain at least once per week and 30 (5%) with pain daily. Among those with AD pain, 22% reported worst pain intensity ≥7. The frequency and intensity of AD pain were associated with Patient-Oriented Scoring Atopic Dermatitis (PO-SCORAD), PO-SCORAD itch and sleep, and Patient-Oriented Eczema Measure (P ≤ .004 for all). Among those experiencing AD pain, 179 (48%) reported pain occurring only after frequent scratching, 156 (42%) reported intermittent pain, and 27 (11%) reported constant pain throughout the day. AD pain was most commonly associated with open areas caused by scratching (27%) and fissures in the skin (27%), followed by inflamed red skin (25%), with only a minority reporting pain mostly caused by burning from creams or ointments (10%). Mild AD was associated with more pain from scratching, whereas severe AD was associated with more constant pain and pain from inflamed skin. Conclusions: Pain is a distinct symptom in AD, with heterogeneous frequency, characteristics, intensity, and quality of life impact. Pain was related to scratching, fissures, and/or inflamed red skin, and least from burning from topical medications. Skin pain should be assessed in patients with AD and monitoring treatment response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2699-2706.e7
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019


  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Burden
  • Eczema
  • Epidemiology
  • Itch
  • Pain
  • Severity
  • Sign
  • Symptom

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy


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