Psychodermatology Overview

Psychodermatologists usually combine traditional treatments with stress-relieving therapy. See more getting beautiful skin pictures.
© Balcerzak

When you're mentally worn out from a tough week at work, a fight with a friend or just a long day, there are probably some steps you'll take to relax. You might have a bubble bath, talk to a friend or take a day off from your job. But what if your skin is trying to tell you that it needs a break? A pesky breakout or itchy rash may be a sign that your skin is also fed up with whatever is stressing you out. Irritated skin usually sends people running to the drug store for quick relief, but a rising trend has some heading to dermatologists who specialize in psychodermatology -- therapists for your skin.

Psychodermatology is an approach to treating skin conditions that addresses the connection between mind and body and, in doing so, examines disorders that are exacerbated by psychological or emotional stress. The field's practitioners study the external stressors that often trigger skin conditions or inhibit the body's healing process. With these stressors in mind, a psychodermatologist creates a treatment plan that can involve anything from yoga to self-hypnosis, often in tandem with more traditional dermatology therapies, such as antibiotics. Although psychodermatology has been growing in popularity, it may be more effective for conditions that aren't responding well to medical treatment than for conditions that do [source: American Academy of Dermatology, Koo and Lebwohl].

Whether you have a chronic skin disorder or an unexpected flare-up of a skin condition, psychodermatology could be a helpful complement or alternative to conventional treatments. But before you decide if psychodermatology is right for you, you should have an idea of what psychodermatologists do, the methods they use and the benefits of these treatments.

Read on to learn more about if psychodermatology actually works.