Saturday, March 5, 2011

Psychological Impact of Skin

All long-lasting skin diseases have a psychological impact, and eczema is no exception. Our skin is what others see, and they often make judgments based upon it.

Ignorance of skin disease is still widespread. Sufferers of eczema and conditions, such as psoriasis, often have to put up with ill-informed comments and mistaken anxieties that these skin complaints are contagious.

The interacting factors that influence an individual’s coping styles include early experiences and cultural stereotypes regarding skin conditions. Emotions and distress around a particular diagnosis also affects coping strategies. Furthermore, a person’s social relationships can be influenced by rejecting or accepting skin conditions.

In the midst of a quite dense description of coping mechanisms, I suddenly found an interesting account of an affected person’s personality characteristics and core beliefs. Higher levels of insecure avoidant attachment styles as well as shame proneness are seen as vulnerability factors. I learned two new concepts here. One, how a relationship focused on coping can be promoted as an intervention, and the second concept of “dermatological shame.” This specific form of shame is described where focus is on the appearance of the skin. Other cognitive factors elaborated in this chapter are that of alexithymia and illness preparation.

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