Psychodermatology: Finding the Balance Between Mind and Skin

Have you ever wondered if your mind can influence your skin? You may have noticed how a stressful situation can affect how you feel and your skin looks. Psychodermatology is a field that studies how the mind affects the body, particularly the skin. In this article, we will go over what it includes and what to expect.

Key takeaways:

What is psychodermatology

Psychodermatology involves the interaction between the mind and the skin. The process is not as easy as it seems because it involves figuring out the cause, any diagnostic tests that might help, and the treatment. Psychodermatological disorders are mainly categorized into three groups:

  • Psychosomatic disorders.
  • Primary psychiatric disorders.
  • Secondary psychiatric disorders.

Psychological issues that impact the skin

Psychodermatology has three main types. It is important to know about all three if you want to better understand how the mind affects the skin.

  • Psychosomatic disorders. These disorders can get worse when you are stressed. However, it's crucial to keep in mind that stress does not directly cause these disorders. Some skin conditions—like psoriasis, acne, eczema, atopic dermatitis, alopecia areata, rosacea, and hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating, mostly on the palms and soles of the feet)—can get worse when you are stressed.
  • Psychiatric conditions. Such conditions, which can show up with different skin changes, are called primary psychiatric disorders. Examples of these include trichotillomania, delusion of parasitosis, etc.
  • Secondary psychiatric disorders. These are mostly those that happen because of skin diseases that make a person look bad and cause mental pain, like depression, anxiety, social phobia, and loss of self-confidence. Skin problems like psoriasis, chronic eczema, and severe acne can make a person feel and act differently, including in terms of their confidence.

Can emotions affect the skin?

A recent study explored the impact and influence of negative emotions on various skin disorders. Researchers found that people diagnosed with a skin condition lived in a state of intense emotional activation. In fact, right from the time one receives a diagnosis, an individual goes through some form of psychological difficulty in terms of disease acceptance to various therapies that he or she has to undergo.

It has also been found that negative emotions can have a direct correlation with the body and manifest in various forms, right from skin conditions to the worsening of an already existing condition.

Understanding the role that emotions play on the body, especially the skin, has helped improve the way the management of skin conditions is undertaken today.

The mind and skin connection

The skin is the main sensory organ when it comes to external stressors such as heat, cold, and pain. In the same way, the skin is the main organ that responds to stressors that come from inside the body, like those that come from the brain.

These internal stressors can cause inflammatory mediators to be released and can be the source of stress, which can show up in different skin conditions. Alternatively, this can also lead to the worsening of existing skin conditions.

Tips to improve the mind-body connection

We now understand the influence of the mind over the body and the skin. Emotions, stress, and various other psychological factors can not only worsen skin conditions but can give rise to them in the first place as well.

The first step is to be aware of this and consciously try to connect with and understand one's feelings. You should not have to go through this phase by yourself. Asking for help from a professional or a loved one will help you get through it better. Below are some ways to develop a positive attitude and make your mind feel good in general.

Easy everyday tips

  1. Practice meditation and mindfulness. Meditation does not have to include strict hours of silence, but even being mindful of your thoughts and trying to remove any negative ones can be a great starting point.
  2. Journaling. Write down five things you are grateful for every day. Studies have shown that practicing gratitude and journaling towards the end of the day has a positive impact on the overall mind-body connection and helps one sleep better.
  3. Take a walk. Often, the worries of everyday life can silently creep up and influence the way we feel. Distracting oneself with a short walk will not only help improve your cardiovascular health but also give you a much-needed break.
  4. Spend quality time with loved ones. Plan a special outing, a game night, or anything fun for you and your loved ones. Bonding and spending time having fun release beneficial hormones that help in the overall healing process of the body.
  5. Don’t shy away from asking for help. If you need to talk to someone and wish to share your inner thoughts and conflicts, don’t shy away from sharing them with a professional or with a loved one who is ready to help. The first step is to ask, and having someone guide you along the journey is one of the best ways to emerge victorious through any conflict.

Psychodermatology is not given enough attention, but it is just as important as any other medical field. Management and care often involve the care of the primary physician, the dermatologist, the psychiatrist, and the psychologist. It is equally important to learn to identify it in oneself or your loved ones, as they can be taken care of if identified on time.

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