The prevalence and risk of erectile dysfunction (ED) is higher in men with psoriasis than in men with atopic dermatitis, according to a recent study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.
Past research has shown a link between ED and psoriasis. In fact, men with these conditions often share comorbidities like heart disease, diabetes, and depression. But any connection between ED and atopic dermatitis has been unclear. This study looked at the prevalence and risk of ED in Danish men with these skin conditions.
Psoriasis is caused by skin cells that grow more quickly than usual, resulting in skin lesions that can occur on any part of the body. The elbows, knees, and scalp are the most common locations, but psoriasis can also affect the genitals. Scientists are not sure what causes it.
Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is much more common in children. About half of children who develop it continue to have symptoms in adulthood, including scaly, dry, itchy skin.
The researchers consulted a Danish medical database to identify over 1.75 million men between the ages of 30 and 100. Looking at records from January 1, 2008 to December 31, 2012, the research team identified 2,373 men with adult dermatitis (average age 47 years), and 26,536 men with psoriasis (average age 56 years).
When analyzing the data, the researchers adjusted for potential confounding factors, including age, socioeconomic status, health care consumption, smoking, alcohol abuse, diabetes, and cholesterol-lowering drug use.
During this time, the prevalence of ED was as follows:
|Men with atopic dermatitis||6.7%|
|Men with psoriasis||12.8%|
Overall, men with psoriasis were found to have the greatest prevalence and risk of new-onset ED. Prevalence and risk for men with atopic dermatitis and the general population were comparable, the authors noted, with the former group showing lower risk.
Why were men with psoriasis more likely to develop ED? The study authors explained men with psoriasis often have low self-esteem and poor body image, which may affect sexual function. Also, while psoriasis can form on the genitals, atopic dermatitis rarely develops in this area.
The authors acknowledged that they did not know whether the men’s ED was caused by psychological or physical factors, writing that “whether the observed association between [atopic dermatitis] or psoriasis and ED is from organic, psychological, or relational conditions requires further study.”
They also pointed that their definition of ED was determined by the men’s use of prescription ED medications. Because some men may acquire ED drugs on the internet (without a prescription), the prevalence of ED could be higher. In addition, some men feel too embarrassed to see a healthcare provider for ED, so these men would not be represented.
American Academy of Dermatology
The Journal of Sexual Medicine
Egeberg, Alexander, MD, PhD, et al.
“Erectile Dysfunction in Male Adults With Atopic Dermatitis and Psoriasis”
(Full-text. Published online: January 18, 2017)
National Psoriasis Foundation