MORE THAN SKIN DEEP
Skin matters in many ways.
It is the frontline of our immune defence and the largest organ in the human body. It is also integral to our self-image and confidence and can therefore have a huge impact on psychological and emotional wellbeing, too.
We are encouraged to love the skin we are in, yet for millions of Britons that is a challenge because it means having to embrace an inflammatory skin condition characterised by itching, redness, cracking and other discomforts.
Approximately a quarter of the UK population consults a GP every year regarding a skin issue. Skin disease is the second most common disease in adults1. And eczema, psoriasis and acne are three of the most common skin conditions for which people seek help.
REAL WORLD DATA
The Skin Life Sciences Foundation (SLSF) — a new information body (funded by Typharm) which aims to help tackle skin issues and improve education and awareness of skin matters — reveals a surge in skin conditions as a result of the pandemic.
The SLSF research found
of adults experienced a flare-up or worsening of their skin condition as a result of increased hand-washing
of adults suffered from skin conditions such as psoriasis2
During the COVID pandemic in particular there has been a rise in inflammatory skin conditions such as hand eczema from hand washing and acne from protective face clothing.
The latest SLFS real world data confirms the extent of the pandemic’s impact on our skin, with almost four out of five (78%)3 adults reporting problems as a result of increased hand hygiene. A similar increase has been seen in children. In fact, the British Skin Foundation has warned that almost a quarter of children are now suffering from eczema on their hands as a result of more frequent hand washing4.
COVID-19 has brought a tsunami of stress and this is emerging as another important driver for skin conditions. Scientists are still unravelling the complex brain-skin connections and pathways which can activate a cascade of negative hormonal and inflammatory changes. But there is now no doubt that stress can trigger, or exacerbate, skin flare-ups5.
Britain leads the way in the science skin psychology. In 20106, the British Association of Dermatologists helped launch Psychodermatology UK, an expert group of dermatologists, psychiatrists and psychologists which was set up to improve awareness of the interplay between mind, emotions and skin and promote research and evidence-based best practice7. However, pandemic restrictions have had a devastating impact on access to specialist care, with the total number of dermatology appointments plummeting to 58% of pre-COVID numbers during the first lockdown and first attendances falling by 43%8.
Although the number of appointments improved as restrictions were eased, the latest data suggests they have still only reached 75% of pre-COVID levels. It is a perfect storm of skincare challenges which has left millions of Britons in discomfort and at increased risk of physical and psychological harm. Never before has there been such a need for accurate information, increased awareness and clear signposting to evidence-based therapies.
The SLSF report aims to address this urgent need by charting the latest data and science around skin problems and presenting information on a range of treatment options.
1 BAD – Quality Standards for Dermatology Document
2 Perspectus Global omnibus survey of 1,000 adults, Spring 2021 (Q4)
3 Perspectus Global omnibus survey of 1,000 adults, Spring 2021 (Q4)
4 www.bad.org.uk/library-media/documents/consultant%20physicians%20working%20with%20patients%202013.pdf [last accessed 18 Aug 2021]
5 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4082169/ [last accessed 18 Aug 2021]
6 https://af4ace09-a100-49a9-890c-bd900d19e31d.filesusr.com/ugd/0f44f0_bf83c884bb304e1d8cb549366f75b913.pdf [last accessed 18 Aug 2021]
7 www.bad.org.uk/healthcare-professionals/specialist-groups/ukpsychodermatology-society [last accessed 18 Aug 2021]
8 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ced.14547 [last accessed 18 Aug 2021]