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by Dr Ditesh Dhaya, Dr Sanju George and Professor Femi Oyebode
Last reviewed: April 2018
The skin is the largest organ of the
body covering a surface area of 1.5 to 2 square metres in the
average adult. It plays a vital role in the interface with external
elements and because of its visibility has tremendous social
significance. The skin and the nervous system share a common
embryonic origin from the ectoderm and hence pathology in one organ
system is likely to affect the other.
The purpose of this module is to alert the clinician to
potentially treatable psychiatric disorders that may underlie some
dermatological disorders and to review the salient clinical
features and psychiatric treatments that have been reported to be
It is estimated that approximately one third of dermatology
patients have some type of associated psychiatric or
psychological problem. Effective management involves an integrated
approach to the patient, including consideration of associated
emotional factors (Gupta et al,
Psychiatric intervention is often the most crucial element in
the treatment of these patients. However, many of these patients
lack insight into the possible psychogenic origin of their symptoms
and are often reluctant to accept a psychiatric referral.
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Essentials of Physical Health in Psychiatry (book from RCPsych
Download take-home notes to print and