New data from a nationwide survey, commissioned by Typharm’s Skin Life Sciences Foundation has found that almost two thirds of Scottish adults (62%) say that recent periods of stress and anxiety have caused skin flare ups, dryness and itchiness.

One quarter said their existing eczema or psoriasis gets worse when they’re stressed.

Nearly one third (31%) also reported allergic-type skin reactions which happened for no apparent reason. More than a fifth put this down to stress (22%), while a similar number blamed it on anxiety.

There has been an explosion of skin conditions due to pandemic ‘living’ stress. According to a recent international survey of more than 4000 patients from 86 different countries, 43% reported worsening psoriasis, and people were twice as likely to report psoriasis flare ups when they were experiencing mental health concerns.

GP, Dr Nisa Aslam from Typharm’s Skin Life Sciences Foundation, said: “Stress and anxiety are typical reasons for skin flare ups. Not only can they make existing psoriasis, eczema or dermatitis worse, but they can even lead to dryness, red patches and itchiness in people who don’t normally experience skin problems.”

The Typharm survey also found that skin problems were a source of stress, with 45% of people saying unsightly patches of redness or scaling made them feel anxious, while skin itchiness and dryness made it hard for 24% to sleep. Nearly a third were reluctant to socialise or felt they had to cover up (29%) when experiencing skin flare ups. More than one in ten felt judged or discriminated against (14%).

Dr Aslam adds: “There’s no need to suffer in silence as there are now several topical treatments for skin conditions which can be prescribed by a doctor or healthcare professional. Topical steroids are sometimes needed to control flare-ups, and while they cannot be used daily for prolonged periods, these medicines are invaluable for many people with skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis.

“Finding the most effective therapy is often a matter of trial. There are a variety of skin treatment options across eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis from ointments, creams to steroid medicated tape, with new products coming through all the time.

“There is always scope for innovation and an important advance has been the development of new formats — such as medicated tapes which are also waterproof — to help deliver steroids within a different format. However, many people with skin issues like psoriasis are suffering in silence.

“The Typharm survey found more than two thirds of people questioned with eczema, dermatitis or psoriasis have not consulted a GP (69%), and only 15% have seen a dermatologist. It is essential people do ask advice from their doctor, or dermatologist on skin health problems.”