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Lifestyle medicine in dermatology: how our lifestyle can impact our skin

How skin relates to lifestyle is not something that is often considered; but there are plenty of lifestyle interventions for which there is good evidence for the dermatology patient.

This kind of advice can be given in tandem with conventional medical advice, and can help transform the patient into an active participant in treating their condition – rather than a passive recipient, reliant on their clinician.

So what are the connections between our skin and our general wellbeing?

Sunlight. Probably the most obvious and well-known connection! We all know by now that sunlight is a major risk factor for skin cancer and ageing. But do your patients understand how individualised the risk-benefit is to sunlight, depending on which of the 6 Fitzpatrick types they have? While we all need sunlight to synthesise Vitamin D, unfiltered exposure to the sun’s rays is carcinogenic, with melanoma skin cancer the fifth most common cancer in the UK.

Tobacco and alcohol consumption. Tobacco and alcohol consumption cause inflammation in the body that is damaging to the skin.

Sleep disruption is common in dermatology patients, for several reasons, including irritation. There is emerging evidence to support the old adage of beauty sleep, that lack of sleep may affect collagen production and exacerbate inflammatory skin conditions.

Mental health. Skin problems can cause much distress. Vice-versa stress can also trigger and exacerbate many skin conditions.

Nutrition and the gut-skin axis. There is limited but emerging evidence that poor nutrition can have an unwanted effect on the skin – for example, too much sugar in the diet can accelerate skin ageing, and a diet with a high GI index and low in anti-inflammatory foods can exacerbate acne. There are exciting new developments in the area of a healthy microbiome and inflammatory skin conditions also.

How you (and your patients) can start to take better care of your skin with lifestyle interventions

By taking a whole-person approach to dermatology, and focusing on you and your patients’ overall wellbeing, nutrition and mental health, you can start to take better care of your skin, help mitigate the risk skin cancers, and help control the symptoms of chronic conditions and prevent flare-ups.

  • Protect yourself from the sun: cover up as much as possible and use good quality sunscreen (but ensure you have enough sun exposure to get your Vitamin D!)

  • Eat a healthy diet (a Mediterranean diet rich in plant oils)

  • Cut down on sugar

  • Cut out cigarettes and reduce alcohol consumption

  • Manage stress: use an app such as Calm or Headspace; practice deep breathing; get out in nature

  • Take probiotics to promote a healthy microbiome


If you’re interested in delving deeper into the evidence for skin health, lifestyle and wellbeing we have two dermatology modules in our course Lifestyle Medicine in Clinical Practice.


⬇⬇⬇ Upcoming FREE dermatology events ⬇⬇⬇

Join us for two FREE events coming up in September!

Dermatology GP Update meeting for Yorkshire

Thursday 8 September at Weetwood Hall Estate, Leeds.

La Roche Posay & CeraVe are delighted to invite you to our very first face to face GP Update meeting for Yorkshire.

PULSE 365 LIVE Liverpool [5 CPD points]

Tuesday 13 Sept at King's Dock, Liverpool.

Focuses on bringing GPs the latest best practice guidance, regulatory updates and professional advice. This must-attend free event showcases expert speakers working across the UK in both primary and secondary care. Exclusively designed for all practising, GMC-registered GPs and trainees.


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