Sixty percent of Britons affected by skin disease 

Sixty percent of British people suffer or have suffered from a skin disease in their lifetime according to a new survey by the British Skin Foundation. 

The survey results were revealed at the British Skin Foundation’s Skin Deep – 20 Years of Research conference on 13th October 2016 in London.

Skin diseases can range from potential killers such as malignant melanoma, epidermolysis bullosa or harlequin ichthyosis to non-fatal conditions like eczema, acne or psoriasis.  Common skin problems such as cold sores, verrucas or fungal nail infections are also considered skin diseases. 


Some 28% of the population admitted to suffering from acne at some stage during their lifetime, and of those people a huge 39% confess that they don’t know how to handle it. 

Consultant Dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto says: 

“Acne is a treatable skin disease and it is important to seek help early.  No one should have to suffer in silence and early access to your family doctor or dermatologist is key.  Although not life-threatening, the damage acne can cause should not be underestimated.  It can lead to scarring of the skin in addition to having profound effects on self-esteem.  It is important to deal with these at an early stage to prevent lasting physical and psychological effects.”  


Seven in ten people have visible scars or visible skin conditions, with 72% of this group saying it affects their confidence. 

“Statistics like this remind us just how much skin conditions and scars can affect everyday life by crushing people’s confidence. Rather than let skin problems rule lives, put strains on relationships and eat away at self-esteem, our goal is to fund as much research as possible to try and help those with skin issues,” explains Lisa Bickerstaffe, British Skin Foundation spokesperson.

Of the population as a whole, 14% of people confessed that they feel uncomfortable if they see someone with a visible skin condition or scar. 

“Another one of our key aims it to educate people who don’t suffer from skin conditions or scars. Education through the media and online is key to help others understand that those with skin issues should not be overlooked or feared,” adds Bickerstaffe. 

Sun safety and skin cancer 

When revealing their behaviour in the sun, alarmingly 85% of people admitted to being sun burnt three times or more in their lifetime. One in ten also confessed that they don’t wear SPF 30 or more when abroad, and more than a fifth of people admitted to forgetting to reapply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming on holiday. 

Consultant Dermatologist, Dr Emma Wedgeworth warns, “Sunburn isn’t just a nuisance, it’s a warning. We know that just five or more sunburns in your life can double your risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. We are living longer and travelling more than ever before so we need to look after our skin from an early age. Regular reapplication of sun cream, seeking shade and covering up can all significantly reduce the risk of sun damage and skin cancer.”

Whilst there is a high percentage of people getting sun burnt, more positively, 80% are at least regularly checking their skin and moles, whilst encouraging their family to do the same. 

Dr Bav Shergill, Consultant Dermatologist & Dermatological Surgeon explains, “The best way to detect skin cancer is to check your skin regularly. Look out for moles or patches of skin that are growing, changing shape, developing new colours, inflamed, bleeding, crusting, red around the edges, particularly itchy or behaving unusually. Remember – if in doubt, get it checked straight away.” 

Matthew Patey, British Skin Foundation CEO says “Our survey has shown that a high percentage of people are affected by skin disease during their lifetime, telling us that our work is just as essential today as it ever was twenty years ago. It illustrates that more research is needed to help people with all kinds of skin problems and we will keep raising money for research to find treatment and cures across all skin diseases, including skin cancer.” 

Thank you for 20 years of loyal support 

It’s been almost 20 years since the British Skin Foundation launched in November 1996 at the House of Commons, London. Since then we’ve partnered with thousands of ski n disease sufferers, their families and friends, dermatology departments and industry to raise more than £15,000,000 for skin disease research. 

Although we’ve used this money to fund more than 300 research projects throughout the UK and Ireland, we’re not finished! With sixty percent of people currently suffering or having suffered from skin disease, we know that our work isn’t complete! The successes of the past twenty years have increased our resolve as we continue to support the vital work aimed at securing a better quality of life for millions. 

So the British Skin Foundation would like to thank everyone who has made a contribution towards our research over the past two decades. Without our amazing supporters, we couldn’t continue with the work we do. 

Make a donation here.  


Why donate to us?

There are eight million people living with a skin disease in the UK. Some are manageable, others are severe enough to kill. We are here to help change that.

We raise money to fund research for cures for skin disease and skin cancer, but research doesn't fund itself.

We are the UK's only charity dedicated to skin research, and all of our donations and fundraising events are crucial to enabling us to continue our work.

We have supported more than 300 research projects and awarded £15 million in funding across all skin diseases including eczema, psoriasis and many more.

Help us find a cure today.