Skip to main content
Home » Dermatology » Why investing in psychodermatology research is a priority
Innovations in Dermatology 2024

Why investing in psychodermatology research is a priority

Dr Eleanor Chatburn

Clinical Psychologist and Lecturer, University of East Anglia on behalf of the Skin Health Alliance

Skin health significantly impacts people’s wider wellbeing. We must invest in more psychodermatology research, exploring the links between skin and mind to make a real difference in people’s lives.

The health and appearance of our skin are closely connected with our wider physical, psychological and social wellbeing. In a new survey conducted by the Skin Health Alliance, 88% of people reported that they felt self-conscious about their skin.

A further 64% said that their skin has impacted their confidence in a work or social setting. The survey respondents were clear: the impact of skin goes much further than skin deep.  

Psychodermatology explores skin-mind connection

The field of psychodermatology research, which aims to understand the links between the skin and the mind, has grown rapidly in recent years. We now have good evidence that people living with a chronic skin condition or disease are at higher risk of developing a range of body image and mental health problems, including anxiety and depression.

Furthermore, emerging research suggests that there may be a ‘brain-skin axis’ through which psychological stress is translated from the brain to the skin and back again. This bi-directional link could explain the stress-flare cycle in inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.

64% said that their skin has impacted their
confidence in a work or social setting.

Collaborative research needed with new funding

This body of research shows great promise, but we have a long way to go in improving outcomes for people. For example, we urgently need research into the potential of pharmaceutical treatments to break the stress-flare cycle as well as the best way to provide psychosocial support to people who are distressed about their skin. It is vital that clinicians, academics, industry partners and patient charities work together to expand the breadth and depth of psychodermatology research.

Scientific funding opportunities in this field have been limited until now, so it is exciting to see that the Skin Health Alliance has donated £200,000 to the British Skin Foundation with a significant portion earmarked for a psychodermatology research grant. This grant is currently open for applications, with further information available from the British Skin Foundation website.

Next article