The aim of the investigation was to compare psychological symptoms and health-related quality of life of dermatology patients and healthy controls. The sample consisted of 333 consecutively recruited patients from four dermatology outpatient clinics, 172 hospitalized dermatological patients from two university hospitals and 293 matched healthy controls. All patients and controls completed Beck's Depression Inventory, the Brief Symptom Inventory and the Dermatology Life Quality Index. Hospitalized patients were more distressed than outpatients and healthy controls and reported greater impairment of disease-related quality of life than outpatients. More hospitalized patients had suicidal thoughts and were characterized as having severe to moderate depression compared with outpatients and controls. Female patients and younger patients were generally more distressed than male patients and older patients, and patients with atopic dermatitis and psoriasis were more distressed than patients with urticaria and eczemas. Disease-related impairment of quality of life was the main predictor of psychological symptoms, when controlling for diagnosis, age, gender, disease duration and disease severity. Although older age was associated with fewer psychological symptoms, our data suggest that skin disease affects quality of life equally in young and older patients. The findings highlight the importance of recognizing disease-related psychological problems and possible psychiatric comorbidity of dermatology patients, especially among patients with atopic dermatitis and psoriasis.