JOURNAL ARTICLE
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[Dermatitis artefacta: retrospective study in 31 patients].

BACKGROUND: The outcome for patients with dermatitis artefacta is not well known. The primary objective of this single-centre retrospective study was to describe the initial clinical aspects and the prognosis of the disease. The secondary objective was to describe the somatic and psychological management and long-term treatment of these patients.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Records of patients with dermatitis artefacta followed in the dermatology department over the 15 last years were reviewed independently by 2 dermatologists. Diagnostic criteria consisted of evocative clinical pictures and the exclusion of other forms of dermatosis. Data collection included: file analysis, photographs, review questionnaires sent to general practitioner or completed during a phone call to patients (follow-up data).

RESULTS: Thirty-one patient files were selected: 23 women and 8 men, mean age 31 years (SD = 14.8). Clinical aspects included: erythema (50%), ulceration (37%), crust (23%) and blisters (17%). The main sites were the face (67%) and arms (43%). Topical treatment was prescribed in all cases and systemic treatment was prescribed in 23% of cases. Psychological support was offered to 65% of the patients and was accepted by 50%. A follow-up study was performed for 17 patients and showed serious complications in 4 cases consisting of psychosis (n=2) and/or severe self-mutilation (n=3) occurring over several years following diagnosis (5 years for one patient and 12 years for 2 patients).

DISCUSSION: The results confirm the usual and characteristics of dermatitis artefacta such as predominance in young female patients, with lesions affecting visible areas (face, upper legs). In contrastwith published studies, no cases of attempted suicide were observed in our series, although severe dermatitis artefacta was evidenced in only a minority of patients.

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