PSYCHO DERMATOLOGY: MORE THAN SKIN DEEP

 

CONSIDERING THE EMOTIONAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL IMPLICATIONS OF SKIN DISORDERS

 

The need to deal with the whole person when addressing their skincare needs is not a new concept. As a skincare practitioner you are constantly increasing your knowledge, skills and training to better understand, treat and manage skin conditions. This will no doubt mean that you will frequently encounter challenging skin conditions that will also significantly impact the client’s emotional and psychological state of mind.

 

“…You become introverted, avoid contact, and become depressed, obsessive in looking at other people, hoping to see someone else who is affected. You undergo a personality change very slowly, and bit by bit, a strong person is reduced to isolation. You become angry, sad and desperate. After time, it becomes an operation just to go out your front door…” This is a 27 year-old female discussing her 15-year vitiligo history’.

 

The author, Matoyla Kollaras is a qualified therapist and the Director of Skinfactors Cosmeceuticals. She is passionate about skin health and skin treatments and is highly committed to constantly staying at the forefront of research and new advances in skin science and cosmetic ingredients. In this article she addresses the all-important issue of psychodermatology and innovatively approaches the topic through the eyes of patients that reveal their emotional turmoil.

 

The aesthetics industry has progressed significantly in the past decade. Today, aestheticians are armed with greater knowledge, expertise, products, ingredients, equipment and results, thus potentially improving the health of the skin and condition of client’s skin to a greater extent than ever before. Skincare clinics have therefore become a real option for clients who are desperate for your professional expertise and knowledge to treat skin disorders such as acne, hyperpigmentation, rosacea, eczema, elastosis, psoriasis, or manifestations that are as a result of illness, medication, poor treatment outcomes, etc.

 

Even ageing can be a deep-rooted emotional issue for some women. Clients place their trust in you to improve their appearance and meet their expectations. Some clients may have already exhausted the medical option, and so seek the help of skincare clinics to solve their skin issues. However, reports of negative experiences with therapists/aestheticians (as there is with doctors and dermatologists) are common. Therapists/aestheticians were reported as not only having poor comprehension of the pathogenesis and correct treatment protocol for skin disorders (unrealistic promises made, poor treatment outcome, disease or scarring is worsened), but they were also often insensitive to their client’s emotional suffering, and even trivialising their client’s disease. The complexity of clinical scenarios and the constraints on the therapists should be acknowledged, however, therapists should also be educated in the potential psychological effects of skin diseases, and how to correctly manage these problems with empathy and care for best long¬term results and benefits.

 

psychodermatology skin disorders

 

THE SKIN YOU’RE IN IS ALL YOU HAVE

 

“A shocking 47% of people with a skin disease in the UK have been victims of verbal abuse one or more times from a member of the public. A total of 729 people were asked a series of questions relating to their skin disease, or that of the person they care for. Questions were asked on the ways skin disease affects daily life, including forming of sexual relations, social life and work life. The results show that the long-term effects of skin disease can have a devastating impact on sufferers’ lives that few would expect.”

 

The skin is extraordinary, and when you learn to read it correctly it is potentially an excellent diagnostic tool; indeed, quite often being the first ‘red flag’ that something is not quite right internally. The skin is also our largest organ, and has long been recognised as an ‘organ of expression’ (Sack, 1928); it is, after all, our first point of contact between the outside world — environment, meeting people and our own selves. The skin is an organ that can directly respond to external stimuli (a rash caused through contact of a toxic substance), and reflect what is happening inside our bodies, both physiologically and psychologically (blushing when embarrassed, acne due to hormonal factors, auto-immune lupus butterfly rash, dry, itchy skin due to organic disease such as diabetes).

 

Read full article. This originally appeared in Aesthetics Practitioners Journal magazine.