SKIN SHRINKS: counselling for your complexion?

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One of the most interesting developments in beauty lately has been the advent of psychodermatology, a practise which merges the disciplines of dermatology and psychotherapy to holistically treat unglamorous conditions like psoriasis and eczema. Although a fledgling therapy, this concept is already shining like a star in the galaxy of superficial anti-ageing beauty. Chronic skin conditions – including rosacea, hives, acne and mere blushing – are not unusual: many suffer, with the blame going on genes, diet, emotions and chemical-laden topicals. Psychodermatologists believe that stress is the chief precipitator – that, more often than not, it compromises a personal threshold shaped by a combination of the factors above – and their integral approach focuses more on getting at the psychological aspect causing the anxiety and subsequently ailing skin than just medicating it topically. This makes sense. Skin cells are among the speediest in the body to renew, but tests show that when we are stressed, their regeneration demonstrably deaccelerates. This is thought to be because of cortisol, which is generated by the adrenal glands. While it is needed to activate the body when under pressure, high levels of cortisol are toxic, and skin doctors think the toxicity damages skin (mainly by thinning it) and decalcifies bones. Psychodermatology has its roots in Holland – the concept was pioneered in 1995 by Amsterdam psychiatrist Herman Musaph, but there are a clutch of esteemed doctors now practising it around the world. Visit for more information on practising psychodermatologists.