Today, skin diseases are increasingly being treated not only by dermatologists, but also by psychotherapists. What is this approach based on and what should each of us know about it?
Why are skin diseases now associated with psychological problems?
In fact, this relationship has been identified long ago. You did not notice how many expressions in our language that testify to this? We call “pachyderms” of calm and unemotional people. And if someone is trying very hard to impress, we say “he’s climbing out of his skin.” With envy, people “turn green”, with embarrassment – they blush.
It is proved that changes occurring at the psyche level are reflected in the work of internal organs and systems. The study of the relationship between mental state and human health is engaged in psychosomatics. And the connection of the psychological state and skin is highlighted in a special section.
The fact is that in a human embryo, cells of the nervous system and skin cells develop from one germ germ. That is why we can say that the skin is an indicator of not only the physical, but also the mental, emotional state of a person. Psychodermatology is precisely engaged in elucidating the mechanisms of these relationships.
Are skin diseases always associated with psychological problems?
We can say that the psychological component is present in most cases. Somewhere it can be expressed more strongly, somewhere it is weaker. British scientists recently published such data: up to 80% of dermatological patients need serious psychological help. If you ignore the patient’s mental problems, the treatment may not give the desired results or may drag on for a very long time.
Is it possible to draw specific parallels between psychological conditions and those or other skin problems?
Everything is quite individual. The fact is that the skin in our body performs a number of purely psychological functions. To begin with, skin is a kind of barrier between us and the world around us. On the other hand, it is a “contact” body. Remember how the baby likes it, when mom takes it in her arms, strokes it, tickles it. After all, he not only communicates with his mother, but also receives the most important of the natural “medicines”.
It is proved that in people who received enough affection from their parents in infancy, the central nervous system develops more harmoniously. Constant contact with parents gives the child a sense of confidence. And its lack, on the contrary, leads to unconscious attempts to attract attention to itself. They appear, in particular, in the form of skin reactions.
Given the close relationship between the baby and his parents, today it is recommended that treatment of such problems begin with psychological work in the family.
And how do psychological problems affect the skin condition of adults?
The mechanisms are different. Consider stress as an example. If a person is suddenly frightened or threatened with unexpected news, he will most likely turn red or turn pale. This is due to short-term spasm of blood vessels and disturbances in the transmission of nerve impulses. If stress becomes prolonged or depression occurs, then these changes progress and the metabolism in the skin may be impaired. It will become lethargic, complexion will fade, wrinkles will be more pronounced, peeling may occur. Often in this state, age spots or, conversely, depigmented areas appear. Often stress causes increased hair loss, and even focal alopecia.
Here, in addition to physiological mechanisms, another factor acts. Many people who are stressed or depressed do not share their feelings with others. And their experiences find a way out in disorders of the body – including skin problems.
There is one more aspect. Experiencing strong emotional stress, a person often stops paying attention to his diet, lifestyle as a whole, and forgets about skin care.
If a person experiences fear or anxiety, does his reaction proceed on the same principle?
Some other mechanisms may work here. A constant sense of fear can trigger self-defense reactions. They are expressed, in particular, in the fact that the reactions of the sebaceous and sweat glands are activated. That is, skin and hair can become more oily. Often in this state, body odor changes.
However, the connection between the state of the psyche and the skin is most clearly seen on the example of skin diseases. It is proved that the development of eczema, chronic urticaria, psoriasis is most often associated with various psychological, and sometimes mental problems. That is why the cooperation of a dermatologist and a psychotherapist is so important for their treatment.
What psychotherapeutic techniques are used in patients with dermatological problems?
Almost all existing methods can be used. This is, for example, cognitive, psychoanalytic and behavioral therapy. The skill of the doctor lies precisely in the fact that for each patient to choose the optimal treatment regimen.
In dermatological patients, correct correction will help to quickly get rid of the manifestations of the problem. That is, we can deal much more quickly with the acute stage of the disease, which, as a rule, is associated with unpleasant symptoms. Remission in this case will be longer. Sometimes you can do with smaller doses of active dermatological preparations. Since psychotherapeutic help most often multiplies the effectiveness of traditional treatment.
Is there an inverse relationship between skin problems and psychological condition?
Undoubtedly. After all, skin problems, one way or another, affect a person’s sense of self. The simplest example is adolescents who are faced with an “attack” of vulgar eels. They often become withdrawn, lose confidence, communicate less with their peers.
If a person suffers from unpleasant symptoms of a skin disease, he can become irritable, anxious. And a prolonged treatment that does not bring visible results sometimes provokes depressive states.
A vicious circle arises: starting precisely with a psychological shock, a skin problem exacerbates it. And sometimes vice versa, skin disease is not initially associated with any mental illness. It arises already in the process of the disease.
What can be done to prevent such “skin-nerve” reactions?
If we talk about general recommendations, the first and main advice is to learn how to neutralize the effects of stress on the body. It is clear that today few people manage to avoid regular nervous overstrain. But to make sure that stress does not manifest itself in the form of unpleasant skin surprises, you can.
Each of us has our own, most effective way to deal with stress. Someone relieves stress in the gym. Someone “digs” all the negativity into the ground, caring for the flowers. Someone needs to be alone for some time, while someone, on the contrary, aspires to the company. It is important to allow yourself to do exactly what the body requires, trying to get rid of nervous tension.