Your Skin May Reflect Your Psychological Health

Woman taking care of her skin
Woman taking care of her skin

science of us
By Melissa Dahl
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Stress, as you may be well aware, can cause your skin to do weird things like break out in acne or hives — which, cruelly, can cause you even more stress. It’s a vicious cycle, and a (slowly) growing field known as psychodermatology is aiming to address this mind-body connection, reports the American Psychological Association.

Apart from stress, anxiety, depression, and other psychological issues can contribute to some common skin conditions like acne, rosacea, psoriasis, itching, eczema, pain, and hives, according to the APA. And recently, evidence has suggested that some of the go-to ways psychologists treat mental-health conditions — cognitive behavioral therapy and meditation, for example — might help heal dermatological conditions, too.

"The skin is the most noticeable part of our body that could be impacted by psychological factors," Kristina G. Gorbatenko-Roth, a psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, told the APA. "It's classic health psychology, just in a different area." Who knows — someday, perhaps it'll become common for a teenager to have her acne treated with some kind of topical cream as well as hypnosis, and maybe a support group, too.

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