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We all know stress can be a killer–literally. But it can also impact your skin.

The Dermatology Times has a bunch of nifty pieces on stress and skin diseases (ranging from acne to psoriasis) noting that in recent years, scientists are seeing a closer connection between the central nervous system, the endocrine system and the immune system and how stress can impact the skin’s barrier function.

In one study cited, psoriasis sufferers who listened to meditation tapes in addition to receiving PUVA therapy cleared twice as quickly as those who received PUVA therapy alone, leading a University of Rochester researcher to say that mindful meditation is an easy and useful tool to help combat skin ailments. In a separate piece about managing stress, one Doc is quoted saying that derms are not as likely to recommend yoga, meditation or tai chi as they are to simply prescribe a topical or oral antibiotic.

An interesting note–the patients were usually stressed out by their skin disorder, which was partially caused by stress, creating a vicious circle of stress exacerbating the condition and the condition exacerbating the stress. Phew. Just. Calm. Down!

I hope that more derms will advise their patients to take part in some stress-relieving form of exercise or meditation in addition to the usual topical antibiotics. One thing that did concern me was that one of the docs uses an example of a psoriasis patient he successfully treated with a topical treatment and a prescription for 50 mgs of Zoloft. While this particular doc was also a clinical psychiatrist, I don’t want my derm to write out a prescription for any anti-depressant or anti-anxiety meds. I would have preferred to see the results with a prescription for a yoga class three times a week.

I applaud that researchers are spending more time looking at stress its impact on skin disorders, but I hope that they examine non-pharmaceutical techniques to beat it, and not just shove one more pill down the throat of an over-prescribed nation.

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