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Psychodermatology: A Guide to Understanding Common Psychocutaneous Disorders

Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry 2007;9(3):203-213

Objective: This review focuses on classification and description of and current treatment recommendations for psychocutaneous disorders. Medication side effects of both psychotropic and dermatologic drugs are also considered.

Data Sources: A search of the literature from 1951 to 2004 was performed using the MEDLINE search engine. English-language articles were identified using the following search terms: skin and psyche, psychiatry and dermatology, mind and skin, psychocutaneous, and stress and skin.

Data Synthesis: The psychotropic agents most frequently used in patients with psychocutaneous disorders are those that target anxiety, depression, and psychosis. Psychiatric side effects of dermatologic drugs can be significant but can occur less frequently than the cutaneous side effects of psychiatric medications. In a majority of patients presenting to dermatologists, effective management of skin conditions requires consideration of associated psychosocial factors. For some dermatologic conditions, there are specific demographic and personality features that commonly associate with disease onset or exacerbation.

Conclusions: More than just a cosmetic disfigurement, dermatologic disorders are associated with a variety of psychopathologic problems that can affect the patient, his or her family, and society together. Increased understanding of biopsychosocial approaches and liaison among primary care physicians, psychiatrists, and dermatologists could be very useful and highly beneficial.