New research from the British Skin Foundation has highlighted the effect that skin conditions can have on our mental wellbeing
Skin conditions are incredibly common, with an estimated 60% of British people experiencing one at some point in their life – including everything from acne to eczema.
And yet, despite their commonality, new research from the British Skin Foundation has found that, in a survey, more than half of those with a skin disease felt judged by others because of it. Additionally, a significant number of people shared that their skin condition affects their mental health, and leaves them feeling ‘embarrassed’.
More broadly, the research also found that:
- 83% of people believe that their appearance is important to their general wellbeing
- 20% are unhappy with their skin
- 18% are unhappy with their appearance in general
Our skin is often one of the first things that people notice about us, it’s what we face the rest of the world with, and so it’s understandable that – in a culture where we’re bombarded with images of what skin ‘should’ look like – many will feel pressure to meet unrealistic standards, or shame and embarrassment when their appearance fails to meet these.
For Dr Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist and British Skin Foundation spokesperson, these findings are in line with what she would expect.
“Sadly, I don’t find these statistics a shock or surprise as this data mirrors very much what many of us see in clinic,” she says. “We can no longer ignore the growing links between the skin and mind; skin conditions are not simply cosmetic or beauty issues and those who are suffering need to be taken seriously. No one should have to feel alone or suffer in silence. Please consider seeking help from your GP or dermatologist if your skin is impacting your ability to live your life on a daily basis.”
This new data comes just after an announcement from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which – identifying the link between appearance and mental wellbeing – recommended mental health support for those severely affected. And with this relationship now being thrust into the spotlight, it makes sense to address the emotional toll skin conditions can take, alongside the physical.
Speaking to this, Professor Andrew Thompson, consultant clinical psychologist said:
“We know from a multitude of studies conducted by myself and other researchers working in this area, that skin disease is associated with higher risk of experiencing psychological distress. Whilst there may be both complicated physiological and psychosocial reasons why skin conditions are linked to feelings of anxiety and depression, the good news is that psychological treatment can help and consequently it’s important to seek help as soon as symptoms of depression or anxiety are noticed.”
If you are struggling with your body image, reach out to a professional using counselling-directory.org.uk