The relationship between skin and emotions

The skin and the emotions have a closer relationship than you think. Let's see what their link is and why you should never ignore it.

Last update: October 01, 2021

Until a couple of decades ago, talking about the relationship between skin and emotions was a very risky business. Today, however, we know that such a relationship exists. Research in this regard has resulted in the birth of a new area of ​​study: psychodermatology.

Psychodermatology is a very well defined discipline that studies the relationship between the skin and the mind. Broadly speaking, it divides disorders into three categories: psychophysiological, primary psychiatric, and secondary psychiatric. Below we will talk a little about it and show you why it is important to control emotions if you want to take care of the appearance of your skin.

What is the relationship between skin and emotions?

Before beginning our explanation about the relationship between skin and emotions, we must first clarify the categories that we have exposed at the beginning. By psychophysiological disorders are understood skin problems that worsen or react to emotional states. Psoriasis is the best example (although not the only one).

Primary psychiatric disorders are diagnosed psychiatric conditions that translate to skin conditions; most of them self-induced. For example, trichotillomania. Finally, secondary psychiatric disorders are related to episodes that develop low self-esteem or social phobia. An example of this is cystic acne.

In this sense, skin conditions can be worsened or developed by emotional conditions, but they can also cause mental alterations as a consequence. That is, the relationship is bidirectional. The bigger the problem, the greater the physical or psychological consequences.

Based on the evidence, we expose you some conditions that account for the relationship between the skin and the emotions.

Psoriasis is the paradigmatic disease of psychodermatology, but it is not the only one that links the mind and the skin.


As the researchers indicate, a high percentage of psoriasis exacerbations or episodes are related to psychological influences. Stress is the most important situation, in addition to conditioning the approach chosen to stop the course of the disease.

The relationship between stress and psoriasis is highly paradoxical, since this can be triggered as a consequence of suffering from the disease. By doing so, you make it worse, creating a vicious cycle that is difficult to stop. Experts agree that most diagnoses of this condition before age 40 are directly related to stress.

Atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is a disorder that causes redness of the skin. Its relationship with stress is something that various studies have shown, so that among the treatment alternatives psychotherapy is also used.

In fact, there is strong evidence that some psychotherapy techniques, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, biofeedback, and brief dynamic psychotherapy, have good results in their control.

It is not uncommon for adult patients, especially when it comes to extreme episodes, antidepressants are used as an adjunct to main therapy. This is another reason that shows the close relationship between the skin and emotions.


Hyperhidrosis is a condition in which patients experience excessive sweating. It is often associated with exercise or a rise in temperature, but studies and research have shown that it can also be triggered by stress or anxiety.

As you might expect, people develop different emotional sequelae. Social phobia and low self-esteem are among the main ones. Since it can also generate anxiety, and that this in turn worsens the condition, a vicious circle is created identical to the one we have exposed with psoriasis.


Another of the best examples of the relationship between skin and emotions is found in urticaria. More than half of the episodes of this type do not have an apparent explanation, so that some experts suggest that stress plays a leading role. On average, up to 50% of patients with urticaria live with stressful situations.

But it can not only be unleashed in the face of present stimuli. Some people, when faced with memories or stimuli that evoke an abuse or a traumatic situation from the past, can also develop this skin condition. That is why psychological support can be a great ally during treatment.

Of course, we can continue to list diseases and disorders that account for the relationship between the skin and emotions. So that you are aware of them in a general way, we point them out in the following list:

  • Acne excoriee.
  • Alopecia areata.
  • Herpes simplex virus and human papillomavirus that can be reactivated by emotional changes.
  • Dermatitis artifact.
  • Delusions of parasitosis.
  • Neurotic excoriations.
  • Psychogenic itching.
  • Vitiligo (there are indications about this).

There are also the so-called sensory skin disorders. This term includes a dozen skin conditions that cannot be coupled with an accurate diagnosis.

Although its nature is partly unknown, experts indicate that anxiety or depression may be the etiology of some cases. Burning, itchy scalp, stinging of the skin and itching are some examples.

Other examples of the relationship between skin and emotions

Although skin diseases and disorders are the best example of the relationship between the skin and emotions, of course it manifests itself in other ways. Reactions are often due to a defense mechanism; one that claims to prepare or alert you to danger.

Let's see some examples of it:

  • Afraid: When you feel fear, your skin reacts to this emotional stimulus. One of the best known consequences is the so-called goosebumps. This happens to appear more threatening and to better perceive the environment. It can also give you chills and sweating.
  • Shame: When you are exposed to an embarrassing situation, your skin reacts in different ways. One of them is through partial paralysis, although the most common in facial flushing. It is due to increased blood flow under the skin as a result of emotional disturbance.
  • Joy: Joy is one of the strongest emotions, so it is natural that it affects your largest organ. In a light-hearted situation, your skin releases tension, allowing it to partially stretch. Its color changes as there is greater blood flow and it obtains a more lush appearance.
The influence of emotions on skin disorders is becoming increasingly apparent and their study continues to learn more about the link.

These are some examples of how emotions affect the appearance of your skin. Of course, reactions can be triggered by different emotions, so that there is not only one for each type.

Being aware of this relationship is of great importance to prevent sudden emotional changes from negatively affecting the skin's appearance. In turn, it helps patients with dermatological pathologies to control anxiety and social phobia.