October 2019

Psychological effects of skin conditions

Nine out of ten dermatologists agree that not enough importance is placed on the psychological effects resulting from skin conditions according to a recent survey undertaken by the British Skin Foundation.

Professor Andrew Thompson, Reader in Clinical Psychology and Practitioner Clinical Psychologist, University of Sheffield and Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust comments,

This survey demonstrates that dermatologists recognise some patients experience psychological distress associated with their skin condition.  It also indicates that whilst dermatology is making great advances in treating the medical aspects of skin disease, perhaps not enough is being done to address the accompanying psychological effects.  Clearly, we need more research that looks to develop effective psychological treatments or support for both children and adults living with skin conditions.

Additionally, 87% of dermatologists agree that people with skin conditions in the UK do not have sufficient access to psychological support.

Dr Alexandra Mizara, Consultant Psychologist and British Skin Foundation spokesperson says,

It's not surprising that the majority of dermatologists report that the psychological care of skin patients is poor and understated. Skin patients often experience that they are not listened to or understood by their healthcare providers. The occasions that they are listened to and understood are rare and extraordinary. If you suffer with a skin condition that has impacted adversely on your life, talk openly about it to your doctor and ask them to refer you to see a psychologist.

Professor Thompson’s tips for seeking psychological help for your skin condition

  • Although there are few specialist psychological services for people with skin conditions, it’s definitely worth checking your local area as some do exist.

  • Talk to your GP, dermatologist or dermatology nurse who will be able help.

  • Even if there is no skin disease specific wellbeing service in your area, ‘talking based therapies’ are readily available and can greatly reduce feelings of low mood or anxiety.

  • Look online for charities, support groups, online forums and specific self-help websites.

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