Emotions Affect The Skin
When you get nervous, does your skin tend to get splotchy or sweaty? What about when you are embarrassed, do your cheeks tend to get flushed? Maybe you suffer from a psychological disorder such as anxiety, as well as a skin disorder such as dermatitis. This is the topic of great interest to many people, doctors, researchers, and patients alike, since whenever someone is feeling an emotion, they frequently experience a direct reaction manifested in the skin, such as a rash, acne, rosacea, blush, etc. The skin is in fact the largest organ in the human body, so it makes sense that another big part of humans’ lives such as mental and physical stress can affect the skin. Stress scientifically has a complicated pattern in the body, which affects the blood flow to skin, consequently affecting many other things that in turn have outcomes such as acne and other skin conditions, but I won’t bore you with the long, scientific process. Instead, all you need to know is that stress causes a series in the body that negatively affects the skin, and that we will discover possible methods to further understand what should be researched in order to help your skin, as well as your mind, become happier and healthier.
WHAT IS PSYCHODERMATOLOGY?
A newer field in the area of dermatology and psychology has risen which is called psychodermatology. Psychodermatology is the study of the “interaction between the mind and the skin” (Jafferny). Basically, psychologists, psychiatrists, and dermatologists are working together to unearth ways to better serve patients who suffer from mental disorders and skin conditions alike. There have been many studies that have discovered that people who suffer from skin disorders many times also suffer from psychological disorders. Therefore, it is logical to study how one may affect the other, and how to stop this interaction from being deleterious to the skin. One suggestion is to diagnose the skin disorder and psychological disorder, treat the psychological disorder possibly by medication, and thus treat the skin by that process. The idea behind this suggestion is that by treating or stabilizing the chemical imbalance in the body which is the cause of many psychological disorders, it will then treat the skin since the skin experiences direct reactions of the emotions. As you keep reading, you will continue to learn more about how negative emotions and skin conditions may be linked, have been studied in the past, and further information to explore future possibilities in suggestions for practices and research in this field.
THE FOUR MAIN CATEGORIES OF NEGATIVE EMOTIONS
The study conducted by the International Journal of Psychological Research divided the four main negative emotions into four categories of sadness, fear, anger, and disgust. As many of you may know, many people typically can experience more than one of these emotions at a time. First, it is important to define these emotions so we know the common characteristics of each category. The definition of sadness is an “emotional state of unhappiness, ranging in intensity from mild to extreme and usually aroused by the loss of something” (APA Dictionary of Psychology). Depression is when these feelings of sadness last a longer time, and happen more frequently. Fear is defined as a normal, greater emotion where the person will have reactions such as “rapid heartbeat, redirection of blood flow, tensing of the muscles”, etc. (APA Dictionary of Psychology). Also, there is another more prolonged version of this emotion which is known as anxiety. However, there is one important difference between fear and anxiety. Fear is the feeling of threat to a real danger, and anxiety is the feeling of threat to an indefinite danger, more personal to different minds. Many occasions and examples exist where someone is affected by both anxiety and depression.
There was a study conducted to find connections in Sadness, Depression, Fear, and Anxiety with the skin. The study was directed to show how similar the findings were in different groups of people from around the world, more focused specifically on those with the skin disorder vitiligo and/or psoriasis. The conclusions were inevitably that all of the groups of people who suffered from a skin disorder such as vitiligo or psoriasis also suffered from some sort of mental disorder like anxiety or depression as well. It was also noticed that there seemed to be higher levels of depression and anxiety in patients with psoriasis. This discovery was across many unique cultures and backgrounds, ranging from groups of people from India, Singapore, Denmark, and France to the United States.
Now, to define the other two main categories of negative emotions, anger and disgust. Anger is an emotion which is commonly associated with “tension and hostility arising from frustration, real or imagined injury by another, or perceived injustice” (APA Dictionary of Psychology). Aggression comes from the feeling of anger, creating a behavior where the person is ready to attack or confront other people or other objects, maybe physically or emotionally. However, aggression does not always have to be a bad thing, as some people think of it to be a good thing supporting competition, but in the case relating to skin disorders, we will be referring to aggression with a negative connotation. Normally, people primarily connect anxiety and depression as causes or risks for skin disorders, but many forget that anger/aggression can be included as well. Still, it has a lower percentage of skin disorders connected with this emotion, but it is mostly experienced by those who suffer from psoriasis and atopic dermatitis, again studied in groups of people from all over the world.
Disgust is known to be a “strong aversion to something deemed revolting, or toward a person or behavior deemed morally repugnant” (APA Dictionary of Psychology). Many do not generally think of the feeling of disgust to be associated with any skin conditions, however as another main negative emotion, it must be considered. Like many that are uneducated in the area of skin diseases and psychological disorders, even the educated have not deeply considered this emotion as a risk factor either. The only main experiment that has studied the relationship between disgust and skin disorders has found that disgust, as well as shame related to disgust, is found to be higher in those with psoriasis.
SKIN DISORDERS RELATED TO PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDERS
A conclusive analysis of these studies has shown the skin disorders that are most closely related to certain psychological disorders. For example, sadness and/or depression is found to be closely associated with vitiligo, fear and/or anxiety is more related to atopic dermatitis, anger is affiliated with psoriasis, and disgust is more loosely and possibly associated with psoriasis as well. There still needs to be more extensive research on the potential ‘cause-and-effect’ relationship between some of these emotions and skin disorders, as well as more research in general towards a larger range of emotions. Another note that can be studied is how the emotions relate to each other as well, going from one emotion to another in different situations and how that may affect the skin. For example, one could go from a feeling of sadness, to anger, to disgust, either towards themselves or an exterior source. Also, being diagnosed and experiencing the effects of a skin disorder may affect the mental health as well, causing feelings of sadness, anger, disgust, and fear due to the appearance of their skin. There is no doubt that if dermatologists, psychologists, and psychiatrists collaborated on helping a patient, there may be more suggestions for treatment in both areas, the skin and the brain. It is also important to recall that humans are constantly feeling a variety of emotions simultaneously, and it may be difficult to pinpoint if there is actually one that takes power over the others.
For future reference, remember that you are never alone in the range of emotions, extreme or common, that you may experience, as well as the range of skin disorders that you may experience. If you or a loved one are ever concerned for your health, whether that be emotional or physical, it is recommended you seek a professional who may be able to help further to alleviate your stress, worry, or interest. Remember, Uzza is a safe space for all skin types and minds alike. Check out our blog space for more articles like these, or our Instagram and TikTok for additional inspiration.