While psychodermatology is a well-established field in Europe, it has been slower to catch on in the United States, according to a history of the movement on the Association for Psychoneurocutaneous Medicine of North America (APMNA) website. There are just a few psychodermatology clinics in the country, the association reports. Most medical school curricula don’t include psychodermatology material. And there are few researchers and limited research funding in this area.What’s more, the field consists primarily of dermatologists and psychiatrists, says Kristina G. Gorbatenko-Roth, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin–Stout. She became interested in psychodermatology when she developed the hair loss condition alopecia areata and discovered that depression, anxiety and other psychological issues were common among participants posting in an alopecia-related Internet chat room.The APMNA is eager for psychologists to get involved in the field, says Gorbatenko-Roth, who is working with two European psychologists to develop training materials for those interested in developing a clinical competency in psychodermatology.”The skin is the most noticeable part of our body that could be impacted by psychological factors, yet very few psychologists are studying it,” she says. “It’s classic health psychology, just in a different area.”Psychologists have roles to play in treating all three types of psychodermatology disorders, says Gorbatenko-Roth.
The three types are:
Skin problems affected by stress or other emotional states.
Psychological problems caused by disfiguring skin disorders.
Psychiatric disorders that manifest themselves via the skin, such as delusional parasitosis.