Skin diseases are visible, and identifying abnormal skin generally does not require specialist knowledge. Dermatology is therefore a ripe field for studies of cumulative life course impairment, because of the many diseases that affect not only the patients, but also their psychosocial interaction with others. Dermatological patients are visibly sick. The stigma associated with visible as well as hidden skin diseases is considerable and may have a major negative impact on the life course of patients. Stigma and psychosocial relations are however not the only sources of impairment for patients with dermatological diseases. Hand eczema is a prototypical example of a skin disease that causes life course impairment not only due to stigmatization, but also to a major loss of function. The impairment therefore occurs through several mechanisms increasing the potential impact of hand eczema on patients. The list of skin diseases where an assessment of cumulative life course impairment is relevant can be enlarged considerably. Diseases with functional impairment such as, e.g. scleroderma, diseases with prominent subjective symptoms such as acne or hidradenitis, and diseases with limited physical impairment but massive psychosocial impairment in specific communities such as vitiligo, are all suitable for further studies. Life course studies are particularly suitable for skin diseases due to their often chronic recurrent course, low mortality and their psychosocial aspects. The development of a stronger empirical framework is welcomed, and may lead to considerable benefits for patients.