Dr. Joel Schlessinger discusses the link between skin and psychology

The American Psychological Association recently published an article titled “The link between skin and psychology,” which focuses on the relationship between psychological and dermatological problems. The field of study, called psychodermatology, embraces the idea that common skin conditions are affected by psychological issues. In this blog, Dr. Joel Schlessinger sheds light on this idea and why we shouldn’t always blame skin conditions on stress or other psychological factors.

It’s difficult to prove skin conditions are caused by stress, Dr. Joel Schlessinger explains.

According to the APA, psychodermatology focuses on “skin problems affected by stress or other emotional states, psychological problems caused by disfiguring skin disorders, and psychiatric disorders that manifest themselves via the skin, such as delusional parasitosis.” Psychodermatology is common in Europe but not as commonly noted in the United States.

“I think this is a really easy thing for some doctors to blame skin conditions on stress, but stress is very difficult to prove as a cause as it is nearly impossible to reproduce or quantify,” Dr. Joel Schlessinger says. “Therefore, the onus of improving the disease is placed onto the patient (‘You are causing your disease’), rather than the physician. That doesn’t seem fair to me and would only serve to increase a patient’s stress level.”

Dermatologists should holistically treat skin conditions, says Dr. Joel Schlessinger.

Even if stress does play a role in worsening skin conditions, Dr. Joel Schlessinger says patients shouldn’t have to treat themselves. Instead, he prefers to do what he can as a dermatologist to treat their concerns using more traditional methods in combination with other natural and environmental factors being addressed when necessary.

“Stress is something that is part of everyone’s life and while we all try to be care-free, we can’t be in most cases,” he says. “Therefore, I would rather try to focus on what I can change as a dermatologist and avoid throwing salt on the wound by insisting on a daunting task for my patients in order to treat their condition. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to be as stressful as possible and work on improving it when we can, along with other natural and holistic treatments, however.”

Do you have a question for Dr. Joel Schlessinger? Let us know in the comments.

Posted Thursday, February 26th, 2015 at 3:36 pm
Filed Under Category: Dermatology, Research and Studies, Skin Care, Skin Care Myths
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