If you follow me on social media you will have seen that last weekend I attended Aesthetic Medicine Live Clinical Conference in London. One of the subjects talked about which really resonated with me was Skin and Psychology. The psychological impact of skin conditions really cannot be underestimated and in my clinic I often find myself on the front line of this.
Dr Raj Thethi, an aesthetic doctor from Leeds talked about a new concept ‘psychodermatology’ which refers to skin conditions that are linked to psychological health.
From very early on in our lives, in fact from just 2 weeks into conception there is a link between our brain and skin. The Ectoderm in the embryo forms the epidermal skin cells along with the nervous brain tissue.
This link with the brain means that our skin really can shows signs of what is going on in someone’s head. Psychodermatology looks at the links between skin problems that may be affected by stress or emotional states of mind, or psychological problems that have been caused by having a skin disorder.
In my consultations I will always ask the client about their stress levels or any factors that may contribute to stress, this is one of the main psychological factors that can have a big effect on the skin. If we have high stress levels we will get a rise in the Cortisol hormone within our body, this increases our Testosterone levels and results in more sebum being produced which in turn can cause spots and breakouts. This can then become a vicious cycle as the skin condition that has now manifested on the skin can have an effect on our moods and behaviour.
An example, if we have a look at the statistics for acne; 80-95% of adolescents suffer from acne. Acne and acne scarring have been directly linked to issues such as depression, suicide, anxiety, low academic performance, and even unemployment.
Dr Raj presented a case he had worked on recently, a client who had suffered with acne and eczema since the death of her brother. She had tried everything in terms of clinical treatments, dermatology, and medicine but to no avail. Dr Raj took on this client and gave her a combined treatment plan that not only included homecare products and clinical treatments but also psychological help. The result was clear skin!! Her conditions had completely cleared up! Not only that, you could almost see the improvement in the clients state of mind by just looking at the expression on her face in the after photo compared to the before.
“In a vicious circle, stress, depression, and other kinds of psychological problems can exacerbate the skin problems. The common dermatological issues that have been documented to be made worse by stress include acne, rosacea, psoriasis, itching, eczema, pain and hives, just to name a few.”
American Psychological Association.
I often say the skin is the window to what’s going on inside and this couldn’t be more apparent after listening to Dr Raj on Sunday. I always take a holistic view when treating skin conditions, which not only includes lifestyle, diet, health, environment, but stress and wellbeing are big factors too.
Looking at peoples past and present is the key to getting the skin they want for the future. And once we start getting those results they begin to fall in love with their skin again and we break that vicious cycle.
If you are having issues with a skin condition please get in touch today, and lets get you started on your journey to your future skin.