Guest post by Eucerin.
As part of our Your Mind Matters campaign, we're highlighting helpful, medically-focused mental health content by both ourselves and our favourite mental health focused brands. You might not realise that includes skincare brands like Eucerin, too – but they've created an informative guest blog with Dr. Bernard Ho, a highly-accredited dermatologist who specialises in psychodermatology, to explain how our skin can really affect our mind, too.
Eucerin: the link between our Skin and Mind
Besides the skin being the largest organ of the body and its many very useful bodily functions (such as acting as a physical barrier to our environment, temperature regulation, and playing a role in vitamin D metabolism, to name a few), our skin also plays a role in our identity, quality of life, and mental health.
How does the skin play a role in our identity?
The multibillion-dollar cosmetics industry sheds a spotlight on how much our identity and perception of self is based on the appearance of our skin. The culture of selfies and social media have shifted what individuals’ values are based on and on a much larger scale than before the internet. The idea of ‘flawless skin’ in itself is flawed – yet these are the expectations set not only by the beauty industry, but also the use of filters and photo editing apps.
Visible skin diseases, such as eczema, psoriasis, acne, and hyperpigmentation, can have an impact on how we build relationships with others, how we interact with the world around us, but more importantly, how we see ourselves and our own identity.
How does the skin link with our mental health?
Negative emotions and stress can play a physiological role in established inflammatory skin disorders through the effects of stress on the immune system. At the same time, mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorders and body dysmorphic disorders can co-exist with visible skin disease.
For many individuals, there is a direct correlation between their external (or environmental) stressors flaring their skin disease (i.e. using foaming soaps linking to eczema; UVB linking to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation). For some individuals, ‘internal’ stressors (i.e. poor mental health) can also flare or trigger their skin disease (for example, anxiety can provoke eczema flares). And for certain individuals, internal stressors have a direct correlation with external stressors causing a flare with their skin disease (such as obsessive compulsive disorder triggering more hand washing with soap, flaring their hand eczema).
Can anything be done to optimise both our skin health and mental health?
Creating a routine around basic skin care, such as regular use of non-foaming, non-fragranced soaps, like Eucerin's Replenishing Body Wash or Eucerin AtoControl Bath & Shower Oil; emollients, like Eucerin Urea 10% Lotion or AtoControl Body Lotion) and sunscreen (such as Eucerin Sensitive Protect 50+ or Eucerin Oil Control Face Protection SPF 50+) on a daily basis will help maintain the basic bodily functions of the skin.
There are many 'off-the-shelf' products with evidence that can help with common skin conditions such as dry skin (such as our Urea range); acne (our DermoPurifyer range); eczema (our AtoControl range), and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (Thiamidol-containing products, such as Eucerin Triple Effect and Eucerin Protective Fluid SPF 30).
Optimising our mental wellbeing and emotional wellness – such as breathing exercises, mindfulness, and meditation – can help improve our ability to cope with stress and relationships.
However, as one would see their GP or dermatologist for their physical and skin health, sometimes, the input of a GP, psychologist or psychiatrist is needed to help with our poor mental health. For some individuals, professional medical support of both physical and mental health may be needed to help restore the balance between the skin and mind.
So, what does this all mean?
Even if the pursuit for flawless skin is impossible, the journey towards healthy skin can help promote mental wellbeing and help improve our feelings of self-worth and promote feelings of belonging and sense of identity.
- Bernard Ho, Dermatologist.
Right now, we've got 30% off all Eucerin as part of our Your Mind Matters campaign. And if you're looking for anything else to help support your mental health, you can find all of our deals here.