Written for www.metro.co.uk
When we’re living in a society obsessed with Instagram it’s no surprise most of us crave flawless skin.
Unfortunately, for some of us with chronic skin conditions this ideal is simply not possible. From psoriasis to eczema, skin conditions affect our well-being.
Not only can we see our condition every time we look in the mirror but we are constantly comparing it to others.
Psychotherapist Dr Sal Raichbach says: ‘The discomfort and appearance of skin conditions often lead to self-esteem issues, a lack of confidence and emotional distress.
‘Society’s unrealistic demands for beauty are also partly to blame because they further stigmatise physical imperfections.’
Eczema, in its most common form (atopic dermatitis) affects more than 1.5 million people in the UK.
According to recent statistics by Global Healthcare leader Sanofi, 80% of survey participants reported that the condition has a direct impact on their mood, with many suffering from anxiety.
And about 57% of eczema patients said they felt depressed because of their skin with some individuals taking antidepressants to help.
So, what’s being done about it?
Thankfully, a number of campaigns and initiatives have recently launched, giving those with skin conditions a platform to discuss and explore the impact these conditions can have on our mental health.
Scratch Beneath The Surface, a campaign established by Sanofi in collaboration with Allergy UK, aims to improve people’s understanding of the chronic skin condition while supporting those suffering from the psychological impact of eczema.
Their launch event, which took place this month, invited eczema patients and skin specialists to take part in an immersive experience that included actors performing the typical struggles of living with eczema, a photography exhibition and a question-and-answer session with leading dermatologists.
Stephanie Shaw, who has eczema, attended the event. She says: ‘I am so pleased that there is finally a push to get the public to understand the effects of this awful condition. I hope we can rid the ‘it’s only skin’ mentality forever.’
This month, fashion brand Missguided launched its latest campaign #InYourOwnSkin, featuring six models with skin conditions, including psoriasis and epidermolysis bullosa.
Celebrating so-called flaws, the brand’s advert encourages individuals to be comfortable in their own skin.
This is just the latest example of a skin positivity movement, which aims to end stigma surrounding the idea of perfect skin.
A photo series by photographer Sophie Harris-Taylor, called Epidermis, aims to break down the stigma surrounding skin conditions.
Inspired by her own experience with acne, Sophie’s aim is to make our perception of beauty less homogenised.
Featuring close-up portraits of young women with skin conditions, the series allows us to explore the idea of perfection and consider what ‘normal skin’ really is.
Sophie says: ‘I think it’s important to speak openly about how conditions such as acne can have an effect on your mental health.
‘The more we talk about and normalise these conditions the more others will feel they’re not alone and can reach out for help.’