How Much Are Your Skin and Your Mind Connected?


Psychodermatology: The Interaction Between Mind and Skin

The history of psycho dermatology dates back to ancient times with Hippocrates (460-377 BC). Their writings reference the relationship between stress and its effects on the skin. However, the field has only recently gained popularity in the United States. Still, studies on the mind-skin connection began in the 1930s.

Psychodermatology is a relatively new discipline; the exact prevalence of psychological factors that affect skin disease is not known, but it has been estimated in various studies to be from 25% to 33%. Bringing the two disciplines together is a complex interplay between neuroendocrine and immune systems.

“I think dermatologists have always accepted the fact that the skin and the mind are very intertwined,” Dr. Richard Granstein, a physician and researcher specializing in psycho dermatology at Weill Cornell Medicine, told The Cut. “I think it’s always been true. What’s different now is a scientific basis for understanding how the mind affects the skin.”

Psychodermatologists are double-board-certified dermatologists and psychiatrists, requiring two residencies and eight years to receive board certification outside of medical school. There is only a handful listed in the U.S. They can be located at the Association for Psychoneurocutaneous Medicine of North America.

“More people understand a mind-body connection, that what goes on in the psyche affects the body, including the skin,” says Dr. Amy Wechsler. “I think that it’s just slower to catch on in the U.S. Here, doctors have not thought holistically like they do in other parts of the world.”

As the lines between beauty and wellness merge, consumers are beginning to recognize that skin health is more than skin deep. As a result, Psychodermatology seems to be primed to hit its stride.

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