Let’s Talk About Psychodermatology
What does Psychology have to do with Dermatology?
We seek a psychologist for our minds and a dermatologist for our skin. What happens when the two collide? Studies show that long-term skin conditions are highly associated with poor mental health. Let’s explore.
Visible skin conditions can cause low self-esteem, which leads to self-isolation, low motivation, and poor self-worth. Combined with the pain and stress of a skin condition, these factors can quickly manifest as depression, anxiety, or even a panic disorder.
While skin conditions can lead to poor mental health, it also works the other way around. Many report skin conditions worsening when experiencing sustained physical or emotional stress, even if symptoms aren’t usually present. So, what does that mean?
The science: why Psychodermatology truly works
Science says communication between the skin and mind is a two-way street. You can’t care for your skin without caring for your mind. Investing in your skin and neglecting your mental health is like using a bandaid when you need stitches.
Let’s get technical. The skin and brain are made of the same ectoderm – meaning when you’re in the womb, the same embryologic tissue that forms the brain then goes on to create the skin. That’s why the skin-mind connection is unique and intimate.
Our mood affects our skin.
While stress can exacerbate symptoms of several skin conditions, there are also physical impacts. For example, skin picking, scratching and hair-pulling.
Our skin affects our mood.
It’s not vain to be concerned about our physical appearance. Low self-esteem can lessen the opportunities we have in life.
Our health is holistic.
Our immune system responds to threats. Bacteria, shedding skin and open wounds are all perceived as threats by our brain, so our system works overtime to battle severe skin conditions. That means you can add fatigue and lowered endocrine functions to the list of stressors associated with skin conditions.
Our lifestyle affects everything.
Clear skin isn’t going to solve mental health challenges magically, but dedicated time for selfcare that addresses skin concerns and stressors is undoubtedly a start. Taking a moment to focus on yourself and your happiness with purpose can release serotonin and other happy hormones, meaning an overall improvement in your mood - and a certain domino effect. Psychodermatology can give you genuine, long-term results like you’ve never seen before.
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