As medical practitioners in the West become more aware of the mind-body connection and start to view their patients holistically, they’ve also gained insights into how physical disease can cause mental distress. For adults and children who suffer from skin conditions, the visibility of those conditions may lead to depression and other mental health issues.
At Specialists in Dermatology, with offices in Houston, Texas, or The Woodlands, Texas, our team of caring and compassionate dermatologists understands that your skin problems are more than skin deep. Skin conditions can affect every aspect of your life.
Skin problems cause self-consciousness
Even though we know each human should be judged on their character and internal qualities alone, that isn’t the way the world always works. People are often judged by their appearance. And you may be your own harshest judge.
When women and men who suffer from rosacea — a condition in which your skin develops red patches and pustules — were surveyed, they reported a high degree of mental distress related to their disease. According to the survey:
- 90% reported lower self-esteem because of rosacea
- 54% reported feeling anxious and helpless
- More than 50% avoided face-to-face contact with others
- 43% said they were depressed
The fact that disease flare-ups can be random and unpredictable only added to their distress.
Stress worsens skin conditions
Unfortunately, worrying about your skin sets off a vicious cycle that can actually exacerbate your skin condition. A relatively new branch of medicine — psychodermatology — focuses on the link between emotions and skin conditions. Skin diseases that can be exacerbated by stress include:
- Atopic dermatitis
- Psychogenic purpura
- Seborrheic dermatitis
Behavioral interventions — including hypnosis, meditation, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) — not only help alleviate the mental distress of having a visible skin disease, but also help control disease flares.
Routines and a sense of control help
One of the best ways to manage the stress that comes along with a skin disease is to develop routines that refocus your thoughts and help you feel more in control of your disease. In one study, patients who had psoriasis required 40% less treatment when they practiced mindful meditation.
Even having a skincare routine can help you manage your disease and give you a sense of control. Setting aside time in each day to care for your skin and give it the products it needs helps trigger the release of chemicals, such as oxytocin and dopamine, that boost your mood.
The mere act of anticipating your relaxing skincare routine can also alleviate stress. And going through your routine helps you focus on each act — such as gently cleansing or massaging your face with moisturizer — rather than worrying about your skin.
Getting help for skin makes you feel better, too
Dermatologists can also help alleviate mental distress about your skin disorder by providing remedies that help you manage flares or minimize the appearance of a flare. Some types of distressing skin problems, such as moles or scars, can even be permanently removed.
We prescribe medical-grade skincare that helps you care for your skin without irritating it or exacerbating your condition. We also recommend lifestyle changes that may help you manage stress and increase your overall health to improve your skin, too.
You don’t need to suffer alone with a skin condition. Get the help you need, and alleviate your distress by contacting us at Specialists in Dermatology today.