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'It paralyzes me': From acne to eczema, skin anxiety is real





Skin problems and fears often go hand in hand. Anxiety is a mental illness that affects many of us. This is a feeling of impending danger or panic, often manifested by shortness of breath, increased heart rate, insomnia, and an


inability to focus on anything other than current concerns.

If you're insecure about your skin, it's easy for reactions like these to get out of hand. While we tend to focus on the physical aspects of skin conditions, the emotional effects, such as: Anxiety, are an equally big problem—and


often more debilitating.

When I was a teenager, I developed severe acne on my back, which later recurred as an adult. My back was suddenly covered in large red cysts, some as big as golf balls. People tell me I'm "lucky" it hasn't spread to my face,


but it feels like I'm hiding a dirty secret.

New relationships are hard; I don't want to take off my clothes in front of anyone. I stopped going to my usual spin classes after I caught a woman staring at me in the locker room. Eventually it went away, but I still


occasionally looked at my back in the bathroom mirror, terrified that the acne would come back like a sequel to a horror movie.

Skin anxiety can affect just about anyone, including R29 beauty editor Jacqueline Kilikita. "I've had hormonal acne since I was 11 years old, but it didn't start worrying me until recently," she said.


"Working in the cosmetics industry, I often worry that the skin experts or makeup artists I meet will judge my spots and scars or try to give me advice, when I've tried most everything, including medication." This even affects them work life.

"I've canceled events and meetings because the thought of people seeing me on a 'bad skin day' makes me panic and anxious. In fact, most people won't say anything, but it's hard for me not to ." I feel like this.


After all, the connection between skin and mental health is very real. For some, this can be a vicious cycle. Publicist Lauren MacAskill suffers from a condition called dyshidrotic blisters: blisters on her hands and feet.

I couldn't sleep because my skin was burning and I was lying in bed crying," she recalled. "Because I knew it was a result of stress, that in itself caused additional stress about how it was affecting me."


When fitness entrepreneur Lucy Arnold started suffering from adult acne, she was so scared that she couldn't leave house – she even missed a friend’s wedding. Although she won for her activewear brand Lucy Locket Loves, she

avoided the ceremony and did not accept any awards in person.


"In the fitness industry, there's a lot of pressure to be perfect," she said. "I used to wear makeup all the time - even when I was training. Some customers asked me if my skin was sore, but others were less polite. One woman

asked me how I manage my skin."


For chef Priscilla Casey, who suffers from rosacea, her fear stems from the fact that her skin condition could flare up again at any time. "People may think I'm blushing and emphasize that it's 'cute,' but don't realize that
I'm actually in the early stages of a rosacea flare-up and experiencing a painful stinging sensation," she explains. Like Lauren, Priscilla also struggled with sleeping. "I used to have nightmares, especially when something important was about to happen. I worried that I might suffer a serious attack, as has happened a few times in the past." A quick search on Reddit will reveal just how many people's love lives have been brought to a standstill by skin anxiety. One user wrote: "I've never had a [girlfriend]. I think the main reason for my social anxiety is my bad skin." Another said: "I hate my skin so much it's driving me absolutely crazy So much so that I'm now a 29-year-old woman who's never been on a date." She's never been kissed and refuses to get her hopes up about finding someone who might actually be attracted to me, if you look closely at her. Although skin anxiety is common, treating it isn't always easy. Skin positivity campaigner Amy How thought her concerns were minor when she sought treatment from the NHS for severe acne. "I spent hours in the mirror analyzing my skin and repeatedly covering it up with makeup," she recalls. "I felt really bad." But the doctor she saw was primarily concerned with treating the acne itself and didn't notice her growing anxiety. "I asked for a referral to a dermatologist who might have a better understanding of what I was going through, but my GP talked me away from the idea, saying: 'They'll just prescribe you [acne medication] ] Roaccutane—that's what they did. 'Do it.'" Many people feel that the seriousness of skin anxiety is overlooked. A survey by the British Skin Foundation found that nine in 10 dermatologists believe the psychological impact of skin conditions is not taken seriously enough. "This survey shows that dermatologists recognize that some patients are experiencing psychological distress related to skin conditions," clinical psychologist Professor Andrew Thompson commented on the foundation's website. "It also suggests that while dermatology has made great strides in medically treating skin conditions, it may not be doing enough to address the psychological consequences that come with it. "We clearly need more research aimed at treating patients with skin conditions. Developing effective psychotherapy or support for children and adults with skin conditions. " Fortunately, the tide is slowly changing, and some dermatologists are treating skin conditions within the larger context of mental health. One of them is Dr. Alia Ahmed, spokesperson for the British Skin Foundation. "A psychodermatologist is a medically qualified doctor who has expertise in dermatology and can also treat psychological problems," she explained. "In psychodermatology, we treat not only skin conditions but also their psychological effects. For example, a person with acne may be afraid of social situations because of their skin. So, in addition to treating his acne, I Techniques for overcoming these feelings will be discussed.” But is psychodermatology easily accessible on the NHS? "Yes, although the wait time before testing is unpredictable," said Dr. Ahmed. "Your GP or dermatologist can refer you to the nearest psychodermatology clinic, but this may not be in your immediate area." As a patient, it’s also important to openly express your skin fears. "It can be helpful to discuss your feelings with your primary care doctor or dermatologist so these problems can be caught early," says Dr. Ahmed. "Not all symptoms of low mood require medication; talk therapy can also help. Your GP can recommend advice, or you can sometimes seek treatment on your own." Many people prefer to put their anxiety issues on hold until their skin improves. But is this the best way forward? "It depends on why the fear exists in the first place," says Dr. Ahmed. "Delaying treatment for mental health issues is not ideal as they may be part of the skin problem and negatively impact treatment outcomes. The best approach is to treat both the mind and the skin at the same time." Skin expert and Botanycl CEO Caroline Sims agrees. Her severe acne led her to seek herbal treatments, but although her acne improved, her fear did not go away. "I've struggled with anxiety for years, especially after a previous difficult relationship where I was bullied a lot for the way I looked. This had a huge impact on my confidence. When I got acne, It gets worse." For Caroline, the best approach was to deal with both problems at the same time. "If you only focus on your skin, you don't know if the anxiety will spill over into another problem. I needed to combat body dysmorphic symptoms from this abusive relationship and found that CBT really helped. I now have weekly counseling , to help relieve general anxiety. Alternative or holistic therapies are another option. Award-winning esthetician Vaishaly Patel provides holistic treatments to clients with underlying anxiety disorders. "I offer craniosacral therapy, which is a very effective treatment for rebalancing the body emotionally and physically," she told me. "It really helps release mental and emotional blocks. I would also recommend Ph.D. No. 1." In Amy's case, big changes like a new job and a change in lifestyle did help, but social media is also a powerful tool. "I started following people on Instagram who were having the same issues as me. When I saw people going through similar things, I acknowledged that it was okay and that I was normal. It taught me how important it was to be kind to yourself. That's when I really no. For more advice on emotional support for skin conditions, visit Skinsupport.org.uk. The British Skin Foundation website is a source of knowledge for anyone struggling with skin problems, as are the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) and the Changing Face website, both of which offer expert advice and care. For more information on how to discuss skin conditions with your GP, click here.

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