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04-11-2010 | Article

Complementary medicine use common among skin disorder patients


Free abstract

MedWire News: The use of complementary and alternative medicine among adults in the USA with skin disease is still common and has increased since 2002, study findings suggest.

Most patients reported using such medicine to improve general wellbeing or for disease prevention rather than to treat or cure their skin disease, say Dr Nana Smith and colleagues from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in New York, USA.

Nevertheless, they stress that physicians should "continue to have open discussion with [their] patients regarding their use of complementary and alternative medicine both to diagnose and prevent adverse reactions."

The researchers surveyed 23,393 individuals, of whom 2374 had reported suffering skin problems in the past 12 months.

Among the patients with skin conditions, 85% were using complementary and alternative medicine specifically for skin disease, and these patients were more than twice as likely to use such medicine as the individuals without skin conditions.

Vitamin/mineral and herbal supplements were the most common form of complementary and alternative medicine used.

The researchers note in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology that only around half of the patients using complementary and alternative medicine for skin problems had discussed its use with their physician.

They comment: "Given the paucity of efficacy evidence and risk of adverse events of complementary and alternative medicine, including skin disease, it is important to expand our understanding of the scope, nature, and trends of complementary and alternative medicine use among people with dermatological conditions."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Lucy Piper