Category Archives: Skin

Mental Health and Your Skin: Tips for Emotionally Coping with Skin Conditions

One day when I was in my early 20’s,  I was getting ready for my summer job as a waitress when I noticed a small clump of red spots on my cheeks that looked like small blood vessels. I’d never noticed these spots before, and I was confused about what they were. After examining them, I covered them up with makeup which I hoped would prevent my coworkers from seeing them. The makeup worked for the first few days — but, to my mortification, these red spots began to spread over the next few months and eventually covered both sides of my face.

This was my very first experience of the chronic skin condition called rosacea, which is surprisingly common. Since then, I’ve worked with my dermatologist to find solutions right for me. It took a couple years to get it just right, but now my skin is clear! For me, the right solution was a combination of laser treatments and special products for sensitive skin.

The winter weather may be beautiful, but it can also bring on common skin conditions like eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, and dry winter skin. In my years as a therapist I’ve seen firsthand the impact of healthy skin on a person’s confidence, relationships, and quality of life.

If your skin is acting up this winter, it can be uncomfortable to do simple things like leave the house and go to work! But skin conditions don’t just embarrass us and make us uncomfortable, they can also impact our mental health. In fact, a recent study by the Canadian Skin Patient Alliance showed that mood disorders are present in up to 30% of people with dermatological conditions.

Psoriasis in particular can have a crippling effect on a person’s mental health – since it’s a visual condition, it can affect people’s feelings, behaviour and experiences. It’s typically associated with a lack of self esteem, sexual dysfunction, anxiety and depression — up to 60% of people with psoriasis may develop depression.

I’ve worked with many clients who are dealing with psoriasis, eczema, and rosacea, and I understand the crippling effects that these skin disorders can have — even something as simple as dating can be awkward when you’re not sure how to talk about your skin condition.

So how can you feel comfortable inside and out? I have a few tips to develop confidence and feel in control of your skin this winter:

1. Empower Yourself: Skin conditions have the power to make us feel like victims. Especially because flare ups can be unpredictable, they leave us feeling like we’re not in control of the condition – but rather, that the skin condition is in control of us! Start the process of empowering yourself by making a commitment to getting help for your skin condition.

2. Talk to Your Doctor: A recent study showed that most people with psoriasis hadn’t visited their doctor in the last year, which means that they aren’t giving themselves the option to try new treatments as they become available. The treatment landscape for skin conditions is constantly changing, and so speaking to a health professional like a dermatologist can help you get educated.

3. Connect with Others: Psoriasis affects 2-3% of the world’s population, which is roughly one million Canadians. Why not tap into the collective wisdom of others? Visiting http://www.CanadianPsoriasis.ca can help you find support and know you’re not alone.

4. Learn: There is no cure for psoriasis, but there are numerous treatments and healthy lifestyle practices that can help, and these things are unique to each person. For my own skin condition of rosacea, I learned that my skin responded differently to different environmental and social factors, but the summer heat and sun would cause the biggest flare-ups. Part of my own journey was accepting that certain activities like hot yoga or outdoor sports would need to be replaced with other fun activities if I wanted to stop my skin from being constantly irritated. Learning what causes your own flare-ups can help you plan your own lifestyle in an empowering way!

By: Dr. Kimberly Moffit