Mind-body connection may extend to skin

BOSTON, MA — If you've ever blushed, you know your skin can reflect your feelings. It makes sense, then, that emotional trouble might show up as skin trouble. Although cause and effect can be difficult to pin down, considerable data suggest that in some people, psychological factors can activate or worsen certain skin conditions. Recognizing and treating these psychological issues might help the skin, too, reports the November 2006 issue of Harvard Women's Health Watch.

Interest in the mind-skin connection has led to a field called psychodermatology. Its aim is not to substitute psychotherapy for medicine, but to recognize emotional issues that may affect the way skin problems respond to medical treatment.

Psychodermatologic disorders are skin problems that can be aggravated by stress and other emotional factors. These include acne, hair loss, eczema, rosacea, and warts, among others. Socially stigmatizing skin disorders such as severe acne, psoriasis, and herpes may also fall into this category.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »