News Forum in brief: Psychological therapy in skin disease

Women with skin conditions such as acne and psoriasis should be offered psychological treatment as part of their management of skin problems, Australian researchers say.

The research team found that symptoms of depression and stress occurred more frequently among patients with skin problems. For this study, 6,630 women aged 22-27 years were asked how often they had experienced skin problems in the past 12 months. Those who responded 'sometimes' or 'often' were defined as having skin problems.

The women were then asked to complete a questionnaire for signs of depression and asked if they had experienced panic attacks. The researchers also checked for other depression risk factors, including chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, as well as alcohol use, obesity and use of the combined oral contraceptive pill.

Overall, 24.2 per cent of the women reported having skin problems. Women with skin problems had the highest levels of stress and depression, but no link was found between skin problems and anxiety attacks.

The research team, led by Dr Parker Magin from the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, concluded that the study provided strong evidence for depressive symptoms and stress-causing skin conditions.

They add that the findings may have considerable clinical implications for psychological interventions in the management of patients with skin disease.

Magin P, Sibbritt D, Bailey K. The relationship between psychiatric illnesses and skin disease. A longitudinal analysis of young Australian women. Arch Dermatol 2009; 145(8): 896-902

More effective antibiotics
US researchers have discovered a mechanism that could make existing antibiotics more effective. The researchers, from the NYU School of Medicine in New York, found that eliminating nitric oxide rendered antibiotics more potent at lower, less toxic doses. Science Online 2009, http://scienceonline09.com.

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