Intended for healthcare professionals

Stress and the skin

The skin is the largest organ of the body and, if not covered, is the one immediately on show. Not only does it represent an external barrier between our internal being and the outside world, but it is also a key feature we use to assess the well-being of those we come into contact with. Health and illness are caused by many different factors, producing multiple effects. The biopsychosocial model illustrates how health and illness are consequences of interactions between biological, psychological and social factors. The prevalence of patients seen with skin disease in primary care services is approximately 36.5% (patients with at least one skin problem). For 59% of patients, the skin condition was their main complaint to their GP. Given the rise in skin cancer statistics, it is fair to say that the percentage of skin disease is on the rise. Those who have physical health problems are more likely to develop mental health issues. Therefore, to provide true holistic care, it is crucial to recognise the impact that skin disorders can have on individuals and their families. The psychological factors could be perpetuating, or precipitating, the skin condition and could also be severely affecting the patient’s quality of life (QoL). Treating the skin condition in conjunction with the psychological factors can enhance the therapeutic relationship with the patient, which will, in turn, increase their adherence to treatment.
Dermatology in practice 2013; 19(3): 14–17
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