Psychological interventions in the management of common skin conditions
Philip D Shenefelt
Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery, College of Medicine, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, USA
Abstract: The nervous system and the skin develop next to each other in the embryo and remain intimately interconnected and interactive throughout life. The nervous system can influence skin conditions through psychoneuroimmunoendocrine mechanisms and through behaviors. Understanding the pathophysiology aids in selection of treatment plans for correcting the negative effects of the psyche on specific skin conditions. Medication options include standard psychotropic medications and alternative herbs and supplements. Other options include biofeedback, cognitive-behavioral methods, hypnosis, meditation, progressive relaxation, the placebo effect, and suggestion. When simple measures fail, combining medications with other therapeutic options may produce better results. Skin conditions that have strong psychophysiologic aspects may respond well to techniques such as biofeedback, cognitive-behavioral methods, hypnosis, meditation, or progressive relaxation that help to counteract stress. Treatment of primary psychiatric disorders that negatively influence skin conditions often results in improvement of those skin conditions. Abnormal conditions of the skin, hair, and nails can also influence the psyche negatively. Treatment of secondary psychiatric disorders such as anxiety or depression that are triggered or exacerbated by the appearance of these skin conditions or the associated discomfort may also be required.
Keywords: psychodermatology, psychosomatic, psychocutaneous, skin disorders, treatment, standard, alternative, non-drug
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