You already know that your mind and emotions can have significant influence over your body — just think about how anxiety can make your heart rate climb, while mental focus can help you bring it back down. Psychosomatic dermatology uses the mind-body connection principle to provide long-lasting relief for patients with skin problems that are exacerbated by underlying biopsychosocial issues. As a board-certified dermatologist who specializes in psychosomatic dermatology, Roy Stern Seidenberg, MD in Manhattan, New York City, is dedicated to providing comprehensive care to all patients. Call or book your appointment online today.
Psychosomatic dermatology, also known as psychodermatology, is the application of psychosomatic medicine — or idea of a mind-body connection — to understand and address the ways in which your mind and emotions can trigger physical symptoms of a persistent skin disorder.
Simply put, it’s the area of medicine that focuses on the boundary between psychiatry and dermatology.
Although most skin disorders can benefit greatly from a traditional medical approach, acknowledging that there’s a psychosomatic element to many skin diseases helps give patients more control over their condition.
That’s why Dr. Seidenberg takes a dual approach to help patients successfully manage long-term skin problems: In addition to relying on clinical skin evaluation and treatment methods, he also incorporates a detailed assessment of the social, family, and work-related issues that may be contributing to the problem.
Psychophysiologic skin disorders, or skin conditions that are directly impacted by the interaction between mind and body, tend to be inflammatory disorders.
For someone who lives with an inflammatory skin disease, extreme emotions or chronic stress can either trigger a flare-up of the condition or make any existing symptoms worse.
The following common skin problems are known to have a mind-body connection:
Although acne is caused by hair follicles that have become plugged with oil and dead skin cells, the inflammatory condition can be made worse by stress, anxiety, and emotions. For patients who live with never-ending breakout cycles that don’t respond well to medicine, learning how to control emotions or limit stress may be the missing link to treatment success.
Psoriasis is caused by an immune system error that stimulates super-fast skin cell growth. Rather than forming over the course of a week, these new skin cells form in just a few days, piling up and forming patches that become thicker and scalier as more cells accumulate.
Although a variety of factors can cause psoriasis, chronic stress is known to both trigger the disorder and make it worse.
Like virtually all rashes, eczema is an inflammatory skin response to some type of irritant. This common childhood skin disorder is characterized by dry, red, scaly patches of skin that can be incredibly itchy.
Like acne and psoriasis, eczema symptoms are often triggered or made worse by emotions or psychological stress.
Treatment for patients with psychosomatic skin disorders begins by making them aware of the mind-body connection.
Helping a patient understand that their symptoms can be triggered in the mind is the first step in helping them control their own illness, and that alone can be enough to break the cycle.