The interdependence of mind and body is now a well-established scientific fact. However when it comes to everyday life there seems to be little realization that most of us carry in terms of how our mind affects our body and vice-versa. We work ourselves into a knot without even realizing the severe long term impact that such a bout of mental stress can have on our body and its functions.
Skin and hair are no different than any other part of the body and both get severely affected by our state of mind. As a matter of fact there exists a subdomain of study that is undertaken by dermatologists called Psychodermatology, which addresses the interaction between mind and skin.
The incidence of psychiatric disorders among dermatological patients is around 30%-50%. Which is a clear indicator that there exists a co-relation between the two subjects and it helps for patients to understand the basics of how your mental state can affect your skin and hair.
The skin and hair disorders that are related to mental state are largely divided into three groups as mentioned below:
1.Psychosomatic Dermatological Disorders
These are those skin and hair disorders which are directly related to high levels of stress that a person may be experiencing. Sometimes the patients describe their state of mind as being in an internal conflict.
Some of the common psychosomatic skin and hair disorders include:
a. Acne – Seen as red bumps or cystic lesions mostly seen on face and back. It is commonly seen in young adults during exams or other high stress situations.Psoriasis –
b. Seen as itchy, flaky patches on elbows, knees, feet, back etc. Sometimes can involve entire body.
c. Eczema – It presents as small itchy water filled boils on hands, feet, legs etc.
d. Lichen Planus – Seen as itchy purplish small bumps on wrists ankles, scalp etc.
e. Alopecia Areata- Small bald patches on scalp or beard.
f. Seborrheic Dermatitis- Thick itchy flakes on scalp, beard, behind ears
g. Rosacea- red patches on cheeks which increases on sun exposure.
Most of these conditions occur almost suddenly and generally are self-mitigating in nature. However a proper dermatological line of treatment is highly recommended to better control and supress the condition. These conditions can remain dormant and recur almost at any point in a person’s life when they are subject to high levels of stress.
1. Primary psychiatric dermatological disorders:
This group includes conditions which are due to underlying psychiatric issues. In this case the skin and hair conditions occur more due to actions of the patient. These conditions primarily need medical attention from psychiatric health specialists to help with the underlying psychiatric condition while a dermatological line of treatment is needed to alleviate visible symptoms.
a. Trichotillomania – A condition in which a person pulls out his or her own hair. The most common underlying psychopathology is obsessive-compulsive behaviour. Patients experience a sense of tension which leads to an episode of hair pulling and they feel relieved after doing so. This leads to patches of bald areas with unequal length of hair.
Treatment from a skin doctor, to help with the superficial loss of hair includes oral and topical medications for hair growth.
b. Psychogenic itching: In this disorder, there are cycles of stress and itching. The stress causes the itching and the act of itching further increases stress. It has been noted in patients with depression, anxiety, aggression, obsessional behaviour and alcoholism. The degree of depression may correlate with severity of itching. Symptomatic oral and topical medications can be recommended by a dermatologist in Mumbai.
c. Dermatitis Artefacta: This is an artefactual (self-inflicted) skin disease caused entirely by the actions of the fully aware patient on the skin, hair or nails with no rational motive for this behaviour. Skin lesions have bizarre shapes and is within the reach of dominant hand. Medications can be provided by a qualified skin specialist to help with the lesions.
d. Other common skin and hair disorders related to psychiatric disorders are:
– Constant picking of acne or any skin lesions
– Nail biting
– Dry Skin as a result of excessive hand washing or bathing
Secondary psychiatric dermatological disorders:
n this set of conditions, the dermatological condition is the primary cause for severe stress and associated psychiatric condition. These dermatological conditions are generally chronic conditions like psoriasis, eczema, Vitiligo, severe acne etc. but the manifestation is so severe that a patient may need help from trained mental health professionals to cope with the physical manifestation of the disease. These conditions can lead to depression, anxiety, impaired social relations, lack of confidence etc.
So when it comes to the health of your skin, hair or your body as a whole, it pays to do the right set of things every day which will help your mind and body. Here are some basic pointers to get you started:
In the end remember your external beauty will only be a reflection of your inner state of mind.
The objective of this article is to educate the reader about the effect of mental health on skin and hair. It helps them understand various psychologically linked skin and hair disorders and also the psychological effects of various skin and hair conditions. The article encourages readers to undertake appropriate skin and hair treatments under the guidance of a trained dermatologist. It is not meant to be used by patients for self-diagnosis or for avoiding proper medical treatment. The images used in the above blog are only for visual representation purposes. Actual procedure and results may vary from patient to patient.
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How InUrSkn can help:
You can get the best, customised and scientific skin treatment in Mumbai for any of these psychosomatic or psychiatric dermatological conditions at InUrSkn, founded and led by the best dermatologist in Mumbai, Dr Sejal Saheta.
We, at InUrSkn fully understand such disorders and thus, any treatment at our skin clinic starts with a detailed discussion with Dr Sejal, who recommends you exactly and only what is needed.