BACKGROUND: The increasing proportion of skin diseases encountered in general practice represents a substantial part of morbidity in children. Only limited information is available about the frequency of specific skin diseases. We aimed to compare incidence rates of skin diseases in children in general practice between 1987 and 2001.
METHODS: We used data on all children aged 0-17 years derived from two consecutive surveys performed in Dutch general practice in 1987 and 2001. Both surveys concerned a longitudinal registration of GP consultations over 12 months. Each disease episode was coded according to the International Classification of Primary Care. Incidence rates of separate skin diseases were calculated by dividing all new episodes for each distinct ICPC code by the average study population at risk. Data were stratified for socio-demographic characteristics.
RESULTS: The incidence rate of all skin diseases combined in general practice decreased between 1987 and 2001. Among infants the incidence rate increased. Girls presented more skin diseases to the GP. In the southern part of the Netherlands children consulted their GP more often for skin diseases compared to the northern part. Children of non-Western immigrants presented relatively more skin diseases to the GP. In general practice incidence rates of specific skin diseases such as impetigo, dermatophytosis and atopic dermatitis increased in 2001, whereas warts, contact dermatitis and skin injuries decreased.
CONCLUSION: The overall incidence rate of all skin diseases combined in general practice decreased whereas the incidence rates of bacterial, mycotic and atopic skin diseases increased.