The interrelationship of emotional status and the state of the skin appears unquestionable. The skin is deservedly called a “speaking” organ of the human body. There is not a single emotion that would not be instantaneously reflected by the skin (pallor and reddening, pruritus, burning sensations, flushing, decreased or increased sweating, etc.).
Although psychodermatology started to attract specialists’ attention only recently, an association between dermal and psychiatric diseases was first noted long ago and has been mentioned in scientific literature since the 19th century . In the book entitled “Diseases of the skin” (1850), Erasmus Wilson described a number of diseases including focal alopecia, hypopigmented skin disorders, pruritus, and dermatosis delirium in the chapter “Cutaneous neuroses”. This book originated psychodermatology as it is known now .
Psychodermatological problems were discussed in scientific literature from time to time in the early 20th century. In particular, Joseph Klauder underlined the importance of psychotherapy in the treatment of skin diseases in 1925 . An article titled “The effect on the skin of emotional and nervous states, masochism and other sex complexes in the background of neurogenous dermatitis” was published in 1930 and dealt with some skin disorders from a psychosomatic point of view . (The term “psychosomatic” was first used by Johann Heinroth back in 1818). Nevertheless, no serious research studies were conducted in this field before the mid-20th century .
There are several common features characteristic of a wide range of skin diseases and bringing sufferers into the focus of close attention of psychiatrists and psychotherapists. They include the duration and the persistent (and often unpredictable) nature of the disease. The resulting cosmetic defect and annoying somatic symptoms (pruritus, burning sensations, pain) often result in further deterioration of the quality of life of these patients and development of neuroses and depressive states .