Cutaneous Leishmaniasis (CL) is a parasitic skin disease, linked to poverty, and belonging to the group of Neglected Tropical Diseases. Depending on the severity, the type of lesions or scars, and the context, CL can lead to self- and social stigma influencing the quality of life and psychological well-being of the patient. This dimension is, however, little documented for the most common, localized form of cutaneous leishmaniasis (LCL). We aimed to describe the current knowledge on the psychological burden and the stigma related to LCL.
The population of interest for this scoping review are patients or their relatives with localized LCL or related scars. We searched the electronic databases PubMed, Web of Knowledge, PsycINFO, POPLINE, Cochrane Library, Science Direct, Global Health, and LILACS, for articles written in Arabic, English, French, Dutch, Portuguese, or Spanish, and published until the end of August 2017.
From 2485 initial records, 15 papers met our inclusion criteria. Dermatology life quality index was the most frequent used scale to assess LCL psychological impact in quantitative studies. Six qualitative studies used individual interviews and/or focus groups discussions to explore the psychological and/or the social burden of this disease. Quantitative assessments using standard scales as well as qualitative research asserts that LCL is a source of psychological suffering, stigmatization, and decreased quality of life (QoL).
Most studies showed that LCL has a significant negative effect on the QoL and mental health. However, the fact that the psychosocial burden generated by LCL is time-dependent makes it hard to measure. We recommend to develop a more specific and validated assessment scale to appreciate the full burden of this disease and enhance comparability of findings.