Feeling confident in your skin is more than an adage -- it's a state of mind. Your skin is the largest, most exposed organ of your body [source: Healy]. How large? The average adult has 21 square feet (2 square meters) of skin, weighing about 9 pounds (4.08 kilograms) with more than 11 miles (17.7 kilometers) of blood vessels [source: Markey]. Our skin plays a vital role in warding off bacteria, ultraviolet light, pollution and other hidden dangers. But we can have skin problems -- many of which can't be concealed -- and they can challenge our confidence.
Do some research: Most skin problems are harmless, but some can be unsightly. Common issues such as psoriasis or eczema can lead depression or anxiety, which can have less to do with the person's skin problem than with how others react to them [source: Lewis]. It's important to understand what the skin problems are and help those around you do the same. If you have a skin issue, research it. If you can't control the problem, there are probably other people who can provide insights on how to deal with it. Talking with a doctor or dermatologist is always a good first step.
Talk with a pro: Skin problems don't just affect your physical appearance; unsightly blemishes can undermine confidence and could affect the way others treat you. People sometimes assume skin conditions are contagious, even though few are. Unfortunately, low self-esteem caused by skin problems can often cause worry, stress, withdrawal, shame and, in extreme cases, thoughts of suicide [source: Hanna]. Skin problems can also affect a person's social and romantic life, and that can have big consequences psychologically. If a person's body or face is covered with bumps, hives or blemishes, it's hard to feel attractive. Seek professional help.
Know you're not alone: Most people will deal with a skin problem at some point -- possibly acne, warts, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, just to name a few. Just remember, you're not alone. Psoriasis, one of the most common skin problems, is an autoimmune disease that affects roughly 125 million people around the world, including 7.5 million Americans. In the U.S., more than $11 billion is spent annually on psoriasis treatments and in time patients missed work [source: National Psoriasis Foundation]. Skin problems can be caused by everything from viruses to heat. Warts are caused by human papillomavirus, or HPV, and more than 100 different strains of the virus exist [source: CDC]. Other examples of skin issues include athlete's foot, which is caused by fungal infections, and heat rash, which blocks off openings for sweat -- trapping it under the skin's surface.
Keep it positive: We've all heard the saying "nobody's perfect," and it's true. But remember that your personality and how you present yourself typically make a more lasting impression than your physical appearance alone. Of course, not all skin problems are as simple as a few pimples. Some can make life incredibly difficult, affecting almost every aspect of it -- socially, professionally and personally.
Keep others in mind: The person with a skin condition is rarely the only one affected by it. Skin problems can take a toll on those around you as well [source: Clark]. Educate yourself to better understand the condition. Not only could it help your outlook, but it can also help you better respond to others who might not understand.
If you develop a skin problem, have it diagnosed as soon as possible. If it's causing low self-esteem or depression, seek help. Your family might be a good place to start, but counselors and support groups for people with skin diseases are also an option. Just because you have a skin problem doesn't mean you have to let it shake your confidence.
- British Broadcasting Company. "Organs -- Skin." (May 29, 2012) http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/154743.php
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Genital HPV Infection - CDC Fact Sheet." April 10, 2008 (May 29, 2012) http://www.cdc.gov/std/HPV/STDFact-HPV.htm
- Clark, Amanda, R.N, M.A. "The psychological impact of living with skin disease." Nursing Times. Aug. 1, 2003. (May 29, 2012) http://www.nursingtimes.net/nursing-practice-clinical-research/the-psychological-impact-of-living-with-skin-disease/199676.article
- Draper, Richard. "Living with Skin Disease." Patient UK. July 22, 2009 (May 29, 2012) http://www.patient.co.uk/doctor/Living-With-Skin-Disease.htm
- Grossbart, Ted A. Ph.D. "Is Your Itch Medical or Psychological?" Talk Eczema. Feb. 1, 2003 (May 29, 2012) http://www.talkeczema.com/webdocs/features/feature_itch_scratch_cycle.php
- Hanna, Shannon; Jasdeep Sharma; and Jennifer Klotz. "Acne vulgaris: More than skin deep." Dermatology Online Journal. Vol. 9, No. 3. (May 29, 2012) http://dermatology.cdlib.org/93/commentary/acne/hanna.html
- Healy, Bernadine, M.D. "Skin Deep." U.S. News & World Report. Nov. 6, 2005. (May 29, 2012) http://health.usnews.com/usnews/health/articles/051114/14skin.htm
- Lewis, Victoria. "Psychological impact of skin disease." NetDoctor. Sept. 15, 2005 (May 29, 2012) http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/childrenshealth/skin_hair/eczema_impact_003751.htm
- Markey, Sean. "20 Things You Didn't Know About...Skin." Discover Magazine. Feb. 6, 2007 (May 29, 2012) http://discovermagazine.com/2007/feb/20-things-skin/?searchterm=skin
- Marks, Ronald. "Practical Problems in Dermatology." Google Books. 1996. (May 29, 2012) http://books.google.com/books?id=rA3ofM1sjS4C&pg=PA68&lpg=PA68&dq=skin+problems+affect+sex&source=bl&ots=z3-EFNqOmO&sig=tgElRGPZ7-by_qsWfArINa1rI14&hl=en&ei=FvWMSrzoBYH6sQPD36nwCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6#v=onepage&q=skin%20problems%20affect%20&f=false
- Medical News Today. "Four Out Of Ten Skin Disease Sufferers Bullied." June 21, 2009 (May 29, 2012) http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/154743.php
- National Psoriasis Foundation. "About Psoriasis: Statistics." (May 29, 2012) http://www.psoriasis.org/netcommunity/sublearn01_statistics