Psychological stress linked to itchy skin and flaky patches on scalp

Stress can inflict a lot of health problems to the body. A new study warns that too much psychological stress is linked to the emergence of skin problems like itchy skin and flaky patches on the scalp.

Researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University wanted to see the effects of psychological or mental stress to college students. They found that increased levels of psychological stress are associated with various skin complaints.

“Previous studies have demonstrated an association between stress and skin symptoms, but those studies relied on small patient samples, did not use standardized tools, are anecdotal in nature, or focused their analyses on a single skin disease,” Dr. Gil Yosipovitch, director of the Temple Itch Center, dermatology department chair at LKSOM and author of the study said.

In the study, the researchers assessed the relationship between psychological stress and the prevalence of skin problems in a randomly selected sample of undergraduate students. Questionnaires were floated at Temple University during the 2014 fall semester and were answered by 5,000 students. In the end, 422 students were included in the final sample size.

These students were designated into three groups according to whether their stress levels are low, moderate or high. Compared to students with low and moderate stress levels, those with high stress levels complained of various skin problems such as itchy skin, nail biting, hair loss, excessive sweating, scaly skin and flaky patches on the scalp.

The findings of the study highlight the need for dermatologists to ask about the stress levels of their patients. This will help determine if the current skin flare up is caused by stress or other factors.

 He added that the study suggests that therapeutic interventions that do not include medicines should be considered when treating patients manifesting both skin conditions and increased levels of mental or psychological stress.

Stress had long been established as a predisposing factor to a lot of skin problems. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, reducing stress levels will lead to clearer skin. Dermatology researchers studied the link between the nervous system and skin problems like acne, psoriasis and rosacea.


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