How stress affects the skin

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The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has recently highlighted the number of ways in which poor mental health can affect skin conditions such as psoriasis, dermatitis and eczema.

Equally, where managers are able to identify issues with mental wellbeing in the workplace and then help individuals, skin health can be supported.

These topics were recently discussed at a mental wellbeing event in Basingstoke, Hampshire, organised by IOSH.

At the event, Dr Helen Taylor, an Associate Member of IOSH and a Partner at EnviroDerm Services, outlined how poor mental health can have significant effects on the condition of the skin.

Dr Taylor said, “Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression can have a profound influence on the condition of our skin. Skin is often described as the ‘window of the soul’, as it reflects how we’re feeling on the inside as much as it shows how we’re feeling on the outside.

“A number of skin conditions including psoriasis, dermatitis and eczema can be caused or exacerbated by poor mental health. Our skin is a barrier to external illness, so when it isn’t faring well it impacts our defences. Sadly, despite skin being our largest organ, skin diseases are often overlooked, as people do not view them as the top priority. This can have a snowball effect, as failing to treat skin conditions can affect us in other ways, including having negative impacts on our mental health and causing sleep deprivation due to being uncomfortable in bed.”

The HSE has urged employers to get to grip with work-related stress, setting work-related stress as one of three occupational health priorities (along with occupational lung disease and musculoskeletal disorders) to tackle.

Last reviewed 5 December 2018

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