I. PSYCHOSOCIAL FUNCTIONS AND IMPACTS OF THE SKIN
A. The skin is the largest and most visible organ of the body that serves as the barrier between the individual and the external environment, including the interpersonal and social environment.
1. As a society, we tend to place a high value on flawless skin and can be quick to judge people on their appearance.
2. The visual appearance of skin disease may lead to the development of disruption of normal interpersonal relationships.
3. Rejection by others frequently occurs.
4. Interpretation of outside stimuli is adversely affected.
5. Expression of enjoyment from outside stimulation is adversely affected.
6. Sensory pleasure is adversely affected.
B. The skin affects the mind.
1. The skin acts as a sense organ for touch, cold, heat, and pain and is an erogenous organ.
2. The skin separates us from the outside world but provides an interface with the psychosocial environment.
3. The skin may be a source of anxiety and stress.
4. Early experiences of skin contact may have far-reaching impact on physical and emotional development.
5. The skin’s condition is influenced by the “look good-feel good” factor. If the skin has imperfections, this can have a detrimental effect on psychosocial well-being and body image, depending on the individual reaction.
C. The mind affects the skin.
1. The skin acts as a facade that displays us and serves as a means of nonverbal communication with the outside world.
2. The skin involuntarily communicates to others some of our emotional states.
3. The skin acts as an intermediary between the individual’s inner self and the external environment.
4. The skin is an organ of emotional expression.
5. The skin conveys varied external stimuli, including temperature differences, pain, affection, tenderness, and sexual identity and stimulation.
6. There is complex interplay between stress, anxiety, and depression in the skin; these factors can precipitate or worsen skin conditions. Living with skin conditions can cause or exacerbate stress, anxiety, and/or depression.
D. The skin is one of the most important psychosomatic organs.
1. The impression an individual makes on another person depends partly on their skin condition/health.
2. Unsightly skin typically provokes negative feelings in the observer.
3. Unsightly the skin may trigger feelings of revulsion, shame, and inferiority.