An All Party Parliamentary Group on Skin (APPGS) is urging greater investment in mental health services dedicated to UK dermatology patients.
The APPGS’ report, published today, is based on the results of a survey in which 98% of skin disease sufferers said their condition affects their emotional and psychological wellbeing.
A worrying 5% of those surveyed reported suicidal thoughts.
Sir Edward Leigh MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Skin and Member of Parliament for Gainsborough, said: “This timely report comes out during a period of unpresented psychological distress for many people living with a skin condition.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated anxiety and stress amongst those already known to experience significant appearance-related distress.”
The survey further revealed that 93% of people with skin diseases including ichthyosis, psoriasis, eczema and vitiligo felt their condition impacted their self-esteem.
A total of 87% reported a negative impact on their social life; 83% said it affected their sleep; 73% said it affected their intimate relationships; and 69% felt it impacted their work or education.
More than half the patients asked were unaware that specialist support was available for UK patients with skin conditions in the form of psychodermatology and only 18% had received some form of psychological support.
“People living with a skin condition deserve the right to be provided with excellent and appropriate psychological support to manage their condition,” added Leigh. “However, I was alarmed by the lack of psychological support that is available to people with a skin condition.
“Therefore, the NHS must urgently invest in, and expand, specialist mental health support for people with a skin condition.”
"The new All Party Parliamentary Group on Skin report concerning mental health and skin disease highlights the critical need to improve psychological services for those suffering from skin conditions in the UK," added British Skin Foundation spokesperson Lisa Bickerstaffe.
"At the British Skin Foundation we know that skin disease can severely affect self-confidence, education, work and relationships and we believe this call to action from the dermatology community should be acted on immediately.
"The current pandemic has heightened psychological distress for those with skin problems, meaning they need support now more than ever."