Psychodermatology is a newer field of dermatology and psychiatry, which encompasses psychiatric aspects of skin disease and dermatological manifestations of psychiatric problems. A psychodermatologist is an individual who has training in both psychiatry and dermatology which enables him/her to understand the interfacing of different conditions, and treat them accordingly with both therapy and medications if needed. Research has shown that when people with skin conditions experience stress, their brains activate the glands that release skin hormones and inflammatory cytokines which cause the nerves beneath the skin to react. These stress-related reactions severely aggravate existing skin conditions.
In a vicious circle, chronic skin conditions often lead to emotional distress, especially if the disease causes visible skin distortion or scars such as extensive psoriasis or vitiligo. Emotional upheaval in turn, can cause genetic skin diseases to surface or exacerbate existing skin conditions. About 30 percent of skin conditions are stress related or appear as a reaction to an emotional problem. Patients in these circumstances often experience difficulty in their professional and personal relationships. In rare cases, people have suicidal thoughts due to these conditions, secondary to social stigma.
The common disorders which may fall into this area include, but not limited to:
- Skin picking
- Nail biting
- Delusion of parasitosis
- Psychogenic itching
- Skin cutting on wrists or other parts of the body
- Atopic dermatitis
- Lichen planus
- Recurring Herpes simplex
- Factitious dermatitis
- Body dysmorphic disorder
There are only a few Psychodermatology clinics in the country and Jafferany Psychiatric Services is among them, and the only one in Michigan. Dr. Jafferany is highly interested and experienced in treating above mentioned disorders, and is a well known national and international speaker on these issues in conferences domestically and abroad.