Wellness has been booming these past few years with most of us focusing on the state of our mental health. The unprecedented pandemic made us re-evaluate the choices we make with respect to our well-being. Ever noticed how when you’re in a great mood with a calm state of mind, people end up asking you about the secret to your glow? That’s how much mental health can impact your skin and your body. Not just this, but an increasing number of beauty brands are focusing on holistic healing as a tool to improve the health of your skin. The connection between your well-being and your skin is where psychodermatology seeps in.
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While one may believe that this is a fairly new concept, according to a study by The Indian Journal of Private Psychiatry, the concept of psychodermatology dates back to 1700 BCE when a Persian prince developed psoriasis because he was anxious about succeeding the royal throne. Even philosophers like Hippocrates and Aristotle strongly believed that our skin and mind are intertwined. Back home, Buddha was known to have treated skin diseases by asking individuals to reign their anger.
What Is Psychodermatology?
According to Dr Batul Patel, leading celebrity dermatologist, founder and medical director of The Bombay Skin Clinic, “Psychodermatology is an interdisciplinary field that bridges psychology and dermatology together. It recognises the reciprocal influence of the skin and mind whilst addressing skin concerns triggered by psychological disorders.” She strongly believes that psychodermatology recognises the significant impact psychological factors can have on your skin. Dr Rashmi Shetty, cosmetic dermatologist and founder of Ra Skin & Aesthetics explains, “There is an embryological connection here since our hair, skin and brain develop from the same tissue.” However, she advises that psychodermatology is an extremely wide term.
Impact Of Psychological Conditions On Your Skin
Suppose you’re someone who’s struggled with cystic or hormonal acne for the better part of your life. In that case, chances are that people have given you unsolicited advice that ranged from drinking water constantly to making harmful DIYs a part of your routine. In a conversation with The Zoe Report, Dr Dustin Portela, a Board-Certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon confirmed a strong connection between our skin and our mental health. Am I the only one who had to deal with random breakouts the minute a stressful situation shows up?
Dr Batul emphasises that “Unlike traditional dermatology which primarily targets the physical aspects of skin disorders, psychodermatology has a far more holistic approach. Not only does this approach treat the physical symptoms but also addresses the psychological stressors that contribute to the condition.” Several dermatologists agree unanimously with the fact that chronic stress can severely impact your skin’s barrier function. Even the National Library of Medicine states that stress and anxiety can affect the skin in a variety of ways. For instance, one may engage in behaviours such as scratching or picking on their skin that may ultimately end up worsening existing skin conditions.
How Psychodermatology Treats The Skin
“A combination of traditional dermatological treatments and psychological interventions such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), relaxation techniques, stress management, biofeedback, hypnosis and mindfulness-based interventions are often recommended in psychodermatology,” explains Dr Batul. The two ever-dynamic worlds of science-backed skincare intertwine with mindful practices to give the patient seeking this therapy the best of both worlds. However, it’s imperative to note that psychodermatology is a part of dermatology and not a sole practice that should be relied on entirely. Dr Rashmi further explains that when one is examining or treating skin disease, there are multiple factors that need to be taken into consideration ranging from nutrition, gut health and even general health.
At-Home Practices You Can Incorporate
While it’s best to consult a dermatologist or a psychodermatologist if you’re looking to treat your skin concerns holistically and medically, there are a few practices you can engage in, from the comfort of your home. Dr Batul recommends that “Being mindful of your skin at home can involve regular skin examinations and consistent skincare routines.” Mindful practices such as yoga, meditation and affirmations can also reduce stress levels to a certain extent. Additionally, ensuring that your nutrition is balanced, with a combination of all nutrients, vitamins and minerals is a great stepping stone to inculcating some mindfulness.