What is psychodermatology?

Psychological factors such as stress influence many skin disorders. Having a skin disorder can also affect your mood and behaviour. Psychological treatment can be helpful in both coping with and treating many skin disorders, either alone or in combination with conventional medications.

Treatment expectations

The psychodermatology service provides support and therapy for people with skin disorders. Treatment is tailored to individual needs and will help people learn new ways of thinking and behaving, as well as reduce psychological symptoms such as stress, anxiety, and depression, which in turn may be worsening a skin disease.

Particular attention may be paid to:

  • Beliefs about appearance and attractiveness.
  • Relationship between stress and skin disorder.
  • Coping with skin disorder.
  • Habits (e.g., itch-scratch).
  • Self-esteem.
  • Relationships.
  • Social interaction skills.
  • Psychological distress (e.g., anxiety, depression).

Types of psychological treatment offered

We provide psychological assessment and treatment. Our service mostly uses a Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy (CBT) approach. This focuses on the present rather than the past; is for a fixed time; and is based on developing skills.

Treatment location

The dermatology unit in Clinic 6 at the Royal Free Hospital, where you will be seen by a psychologist.

Treatment schedule

Appointments are 50 minutes long and are usually weekly. Some patients only require one or two appointments with the psychologist; others need a course of treatment. Typically, a course of treatment is 12 sessions.

How you can be referred

Your dermatologist or specialist dermatology nurse can refer you to the service. You will be assessed within four weeks, but may then have to wait to start a course of treatment.

Once the psychodermatology service has received a referral letter from your dermatologist or dermatology nurse, we will telephone you to offer an appointment.