Never underestimate the role our mental health plays on our skin. There’s a strong and complex connection between our emotions and our skin, and patients who suffer from chronic stress might have little luck with resolving acne, eczema, psoriasis, or hair loss with conventional prescription drugs. That’s where psychodermatology steps in. This therapy modality is the merger between psychology and dermatology, and works by determining the emotional root causes beneath certain skin conditions and developing a mental health treatment plan.
Sleep and stress have a major influence on our skin. The ‘fight or flight’ response we experience in a moment of panic releases cortisol, which helps regulate blood pressure. However, too much cortisol can prompt the skin to release more oil, which can result in acne, eczema, and hives. Relaxation techniques like the “relaxation response,” which involve focused breathing and mindfulness meditation, have been proven to reduce symptoms of a variety of skin conditions.
Sleep is paramount to healthy skin. Insomnia and restless sleep can halt collagen production, causing us wrinkles, lines, and weakening skin elasticity. According to Lily Talakoub, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at Virginia Commonwealth University, 90 days of bad sleep can make skin look “dehydrated, thinner, and older overall.”
Aside from traditional psychotherapy, patients with chronic skin conditions sometimes benefit from hypnotherapy. According to Harvard Health Publishing, hypnosis has helped reduce inflammation for patients featured in small studies. One 2006 Belgian study found that hypnosis helped 67 percent of patients with alopecia to regrow their hair.