Beyond what thinking optimistically can do for your life, some professionals agree that your emotions may play a role in how your skin looks as well. An emerging field, known as psycho-dermatology (how your emotions affect your skin), has practitioners treating individuals with a variety of skin disorders including acne. Techniques including hypnosis and meditation are used to help deal with emotional issues and treat the skin from within. Beyond the well-known link between stress and acne, the key is to help identify specific emotional issues that may trigger the condition.
Think you’re being hoodwinked? Well, some dermatologists believe there is a place for this practice. The mind and skin are connected – nerve endings are connected to the skin, which wraps around organs. As emotions are played out through the neurons, they can be expressed through the skin just like stress can present as stomach problems, anxiety or hypertension. In acne, for example, tension in your body causes the release of stress hormones such as cortisol, which increases oil production and may lead to breakouts. Auto-immune disorders such as alopecia (hair loss) and vitiligo may be linked to a stressful event that triggers the auto-immune reaction. In other words, individuals have different ways of reacting to stress. Some people get ulcers, others will get migraines and some will get skin problems such as rashes or break-outs. An integrated approach to skin care may incorporate antidepressants, relaxation therapy or counseling to help alleviate moods that may result in skin problems.
Studies have shown that at least 30% of all dermatology patients have some underlying psychological problem that often goes unaddressed. If addressed, treatment can have a positive and powerful impact in improving the skin condition. Short lived stressors, like a college student having an acne flare-up during finals aren’t something to be overly concerned about. However, if the stressor is more chronic – a bad marriage, unemployment, etc – it may make sense to try to address the emotional issues involved.
So can you think your way to good skin? The science certainly suggests that how you feel can impact how your skin looks and feels. If you think that stress, anxiety or any other emotional issue might be responsible for your skin condition, speak up. Your dermatologist will be better suited to deal with problem and recommend strategies and treatments that get to the root of the problem.