What does your skin tell me about you?
Certain findings on the skin are signs of stress and anxiety, and acne is a good example of this. Working with my patients to improve their mental well-being is often way more important than simply diagnosing them with acne during the visit.
I have learned that looking at a patient’s skin and making a medical diagnosis is the easy part of being a dermatologist. Figuring out why someone is continuing to have an issue, and working with an individual patient on how best to treat things is nuanced and changes from visit to visit. For example, not all acne is the same, and sometimes I can tell from looking at a patient’s skin if something else is going on in their lives. There is a specific type of acne called acne excoriee. It typically presents with characteristic findings on the skin that appear from squeezing or picking at acne. I can diagnose this type of acne fairly easily just by looking at the skin.
“I can tell from looking at a patient’s skin if something else is going on in their lives.”
Treating the “acne” only helps acne excoriee slightly, and instead it is more important to work with my patients on stress reduction and lifestyle changes in order to solve this type of breakout. I ask my patients about sleep hygiene, external stressors and if they have anxiety. Often my patients with acne excoriee are going through a very stressful time in their lives or are suffering from anxiety. Working with them to improve their mental well-being is often way more important than simply diagnosing them with acne during the visit.
“I ask my patients about sleep hygiene, external stressors and if they have anxiety.”
During my medical training I chose to pursue dermatology in part because it fascinated me that I could see people’s medical concerns in real time in the office. Even more fulfilling is seeing people’s skin improve at follow-up visits due to appropriate treatment and changes in their lifestyle. They often tell me they have been sleeping better, eating healthier and minimizing stress, and as an added bonus, their acne is often better too. This balance of solution and lifestyle was key to the inspiration behind KitavaMD. Working with my patients and developing skincare products to improve the quality of their lives continues to drive my passion for dermatology.