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Problematic Skin

The Emotional Impact of Problematic Skin

In a society that values beauty as highly as ours, the emotional and psychological impact of skin health and appearance is significant. From the cosmetic magazines that line supermarket and drug store shelves, to the television commercials that constantly flash before our eyes, the image of perfection is inescapable. For many people, it is also unattainable and the cause of considerable anxiety and depression—especially those with problematic skin.

Although some people are among the genetically fortunate few who enjoy a flawless, glowing complexion regardless of dietary and hormonal factors, many suffer from less-than-perfect skin that is easily affected by a number of internal and external triggers. Empirical research increasingly implicates troublesome skin conditions and disorders in the development of emotional and psychological problems, even in otherwise healthy individuals.  For example, according to the American Academy of Dermatology and several other notable skin health authorities:

  • Chronic skin disorders such as acne and psoriasis are linked to major depressive disorder (MDD).
  • Adults with persistent acne experience a higher unemployment rate relative to their non-affected peers.
  • Adults suffering from psoriasis, specifically, suffer from suicidal thoughts at three times the rate of the general population.
  • Children affected by skin disorders suffer from unusually high rate of psychosocial difficulty.
  • Anger, low self-esteem, social withdrawal and lacking confidence are all directly linked to problematic skin.

For those suffering from acne, psoriasis, dermatitis, premature skin aging and sun damage, unsightly warts, cysts, lesions, and a long list of other skin-based conditions, the emotional and psychological damage can be devastating. Relative to other cultures, Americans spend an inordinate amount of money on appearances.  In fact, it has been estimated that our society spends more money on maintaining and improving appearances than we do on education, public health, and welfare. This reality, combined with the sheer visibility of our complexions is part of a troubling equation for millions of people.

Unlike other areas of the body that can be conveniently hidden behind clothing, our face is a major part of our social identity and underlying self-esteem. Even heavy applications of makeup or partially face-concealing headwear like hats, scarves, and berets do not completely hide our mug, nor do they erase the toll an underlying skin condition has on emotional and psychological health. To a very large extent, the general condition of our skin and health of our complexion remain totally transparent.

Not surprisingly, the relationship between skin health and psychological / emotional issues is reciprocal and highly complicated. At a certain point, it becomes difficult to determine whether a negative emotional state of being or frame of mind is the primary cause of a skin disorder, or the result of one. For some people, emotional and psychological well-being (combined with diet) help create a healthy, glowing complexion. For others, skin problems exist independently of emotional and psychological factors and may be rooted more in environmental toxins or complex biological factors. There is no one-size-fits all explanation behind the mysteries of skin beauty and health—nor are there easy solutions to totally resolving skin problems once they become serious and chronic.

Although we may not be among the lucky few blessed with complexions that are the envy of our peers and social media standouts, we can still achieve more beautiful skin through discipline and sheer willpower.  An impressive variety of natural, skin-enhancing products are available for a wide range of skin types—all of which can help make a substantial difference in our skin health, and therefore, self-esteem when used on a regular basis. By choosing an appropriate skin care regimen, observing a healthy diet and committing to a regular exercise program, we fight back against the mysterious forces of genetics, luck, chance and fate, and enjoy dramatically improved odds of achieving that star-studded complexion.        

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