Samantha Russell, Medical Director at L’Oreal Group Australia and New Zealand, explains the link between skin health and wellbeing.
Skin conditions not only affect us physically but can also have a profound psychological impact. The visible nature of skin issues can lead to self-consciousness, anxiety, and even depression in affected individuals. This emotional burden can hinder social interactions, damage self-esteem, and reduce overall quality of life. Conversely, taking care of our skin and effectively managing skin conditions can lead to improved self-confidence and mental wellbeing.
New research by L’Oréal Group brands launched at this year’s annual World Dermatology Congress has revealed the prevalence of skin disorders and the true impact they are having on people’s quality of life. In the largest study of its kind, La Roche Posay and Ipsos surveyed 48,000 people across 34 countries and found that half (50%) suffer from self-reported pigmentary disorders (PD) including vitiligo, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, solar lentigo and melasma. Nearly a third (28%) reported a strong impact on quality of life as a result, and 44% of those with a pigmentary disorder reported hiding the visible part of their affected skin. Interestingly, Australia reported the highest percentage of people with Solar Lentigo, which refers to sun spots or age spots that measure more than 0.5 cm, were not present in childhood, appear on long-standing sun-exposed areas, and are darker in colour than skin.
Another study by Vichy laboratories revealed that 72% of women feel hormonal variations negatively impact their well-being, and 61% of women declare skin issues can be present or worsen at a certain time of their menstrual cycle.
The connection between skin health and overall wellbeing is undeniable and the need for access to dermatological support is well and truly there.
However, availability is struggling to keep up with the demand. The World Health Organisation recommends 4 dermatologists per 100,000 people – yet Australia sits well below that benchmark with only 2 dermatologists per 100,000 people available.
While there is still work to be done to improve access to these vital services, there are things people can do at home to get their skin to the healthiest place possible, and work towards feeling comfortable in their own skin.
Enter Artificial Intelligence. In 2023, harnessing the power of AI to check your own skin is possible and accessible. There are tools that allow you to receive an initial assessment of your skin, regularly monitor changes over time, and receive an initial recommendation for the next steps – including referral to a dermatologist or medical professional.
For instance, L’Oréal has developed new technology leveraging Artificial Intelligence to support the first steps on the skin health journey. One of their innovations, Effaclar Spotscan, is an online diagnostic tool that allows users to assess the severity of their acne and benefit from dermo-cosmetic advice. With acne affecting 80% of teenagers and 40% of adults, this online tool aims to revolutionize acne treatment. It requires only three selfies to analyse skin conditions for those across all skin types.
Another example is SkinConsult Al Vichy – the world’s 1st skin aging algorithm developed with dermatologists. Powered by a comparative algorithm, it tracks seven major signs of ageing and provides a personalized skin assessment. That assessment decodes skin strength and priorities to provide a personalised skincare prescription to help users act on their skin ageing process.
It’s important to remember that while AI can provide helpful insights, it’s not a substitute for professional medical advice. Many skin conditions are chronic and require ongoing management. Dermatologists can create customised treatment plans that address the individual needs of patients, helping them manage conditions like psoriasis, eczema, and rosacea to minimize symptoms and enhance quality of life.
All in all, a combination of early detection technology (like AI), dermatological advice, proper skincare, lifestyle changes, and appropriate treatments can help manage skin conditions, improve your skin’s health, and positively impact your overall health and wellbeing.