Understanding Psychodermatology: Skin Health and Mental Wellness

beautiful woman touching her skin psychodermatology

We often hear about the impact of emotions on our mental health, but have you ever considered how they affect our skin? We all know that our physical health is closely tied to our mental and emotional well-being. But did you know that the reverse is also true? Our skin health can be affected by our mental state and emotional state of mind? Psychodermatology is a unique field of medicine that addresses these complex relationships and provides targeted therapies for people who suffer from skin conditions with a psychiatric element. Are you curious to learn how psychodermatology can impact your skin care and overall wellbeing? In this article, we will explore the different types of psychodermatologic disorders, their treatment, and how you can incorporate psychodermatology into your skin care regime.

Exploring Psychodermatology: How Emotions Impact Skin

Recent research has uncovered a strong link between the skin and psychology, with scientists now recognizing that serotonin – the “happy hormone” – plays an important role in keeping things normal. Stress can worsen common skin ailments like psoriasis, eczema and atopic dermatitis; not to mention having a major effect on ageing of our complexion! It’s estimated psychiatric disorders affect around 30-40% of people suffering from chronic disfiguring conditions too. What’s more fascinating is how stimuli received through our skin can influence both the nervous system and hormones. All this leads us to conclude one thing: it’s paramount we treat mind as well as body for best results!

Types of psychodermatologic conditions

There are many different types of psychodermatologic disorders, each with its own unique characteristics and underlying causes. Some of the most common psychodermatologic disorders include:

1. Psoriasis: a chronic skin condition that causes red, scaly patches to appear on the skin. It is often triggered by stress, anxiety, and depression.

2. Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis): a chronic inflammation of the skin characterized by itching, redness, and scaling. It is often worsened by stress and anxiety.

3. Acne: a common skin condition that can cause pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads. Stress, anxiety, and depression can all contribute to acne.

4. Hair Loss: stress and anxiety are known to contribute to hair loss, along with genetic factors.

5. Hives (Urticaria): a skin condition characterized by red, itchy welts that can be triggered by stress, anxiety, and other emotional states.

6. Skin Picking (Excoriation Disorder): a compulsive disorder in which individuals repeatedly pick at their skin, resulting in lesions, scars, and infections. It is often associated with anxiety and depression.

Grouping of conditions

Pychophysiologic disorders—those that can be exacerbated by stress and other emotional states:

  • Acne
  • Alopecia areata
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Psoriasis
  • Psychogenic purpura
  • Rosacea
  • Seborrheic dermatitis
  • Urticaria (hives)

Primary psychiatric disorders—the psychiatric condition results in self-induced skin problems:

  • Delusions of Parasitosis
  • Dysmorphophobia
  • Factitial dermatitis
  • Neurotic excoriations
  • Trichotillomania

Secondary psychiatric disorders­—disfiguring skin conditions result in psychological problems:

  • Alopecia areata
  • Cystic acne
  • Hemangiomas
  • Ichthyosis
  • Kaposi’s sarcoma
  • Psoriasis
  • Vitiligo

How Are Psychodermatologic Skin Conditions Treated?

Psychodermatology treatments are designed to address both the mental and physical components of these skin conditions. Some of the most common approaches include:

1. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): a type of talk therapy that helps patients identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to their skin conditions.

2. Relaxation techniques: such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing, and yoga, are often used to help patients reduce stress and anxiety.

3. Topical medications: like corticosteroids or immunomodulators can help reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms.

4. Pharmacologic approaches: Medications that focus on depression, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can be effective since these disorders often co-occur with psychodermatologic conditions.

Should You Incorporate Psychodermatology Into Your Skin Care?

While psychodermatology treatments are most often provided through mental health professionals, there are some things you can do on your own to address any mental health issues that may be contributing to your skin condition. Learning to manage stress is a great place to start, and meditation or yoga can help. Additionally, speaking with a trained psychotherapist or dermatologist can help uncover the root of your skin issue and identify targeted solutions.

Using Psychodermatology in Your At-Home Skin Care Regimen

At-home skincare routines can be enhanced by incorporating non-invasive relaxation techniques, such as facial massage, which can be paired with guided meditation to help manage stress levels. Additionally, products that contain ingredients like chamomile and lavender, known for their calming effects on the skin and the brain, can provide a benefit. Using mindfulness practices like conscious breathing and gentle touch while cleansing and caring for your skin can help to create a positive mind-body connection and further ease the symptoms of any psychodermatologic conditions.

Final note

Psychodermatology is an exciting and emerging field of medicine that recognizes the close link between the skin and mental health. It is a holistic approach to skin health that considers the connection between the mind and the skin. By understanding the relationship between the two, patients can receive targeted therapies that address both components of their skin condition, leading to improved mental and physical health.  Practicing mindfulness, choosing natural skincare products, and incorporating relaxation techniques, you can start taking care of your skin from the inside out. Consider incorporating some of these practices and techniques into your skincare routine today.

About author

Selma Durmo M. Pharm

“As far as I can remember I have always struggled with sensitive skin. The issues culminated in my mid-twenties when I started having rosacea flares and redness. My personal quest for effective, safe solutions took a professional turn, and I was given the opportunity to apply my (Pharma) background in developing a new skin friendly product line. My goal was to create something new, a clinically proven sustainable skincare brand. This science backed probiotic skincare derived technology is a product of years of research and innovation in personal care products. Metabiotics contain naturally produced hyaluronic acid, lactic acid, SMase, lipoteichoic acid, over 40 peptides and enzymes. All assigned with specific tasks for activating the skins native repair mechanisms.” 

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Today’s trends in skincare require the use of synthetic active ingredients which interact with the skin. Our approach is to distinguish natural alternatives, which mimic the skins native repair mechanism and are more efficient and ecologically sound.

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