Body dysmorphic disorder in the dermatology patient

Clin Dermatol. 2017 May-Jun;35(3):298-301. doi: 10.1016/j.clindermatol.2017.01.002. Epub 2017 Jan 21.


Body dysmorphic disorder is primarily a psychiatric disorder, in which the patient believes that some normal or very near normal aspect of his or her physical appearance is distorted or ugly. Should there be a minor abnormality, it is grossly exaggerated in the mind of the patient, causing feelings of shame and embarrassment and leading daily to spending hours at the mirror, or any reflecting surface, as the patient tries to conceal or remove the perceived abnormality through the development of ritualistic behavior. Although other organs can be involved-for example, the shape of the nose or a portion of an ear- the skin, hair, and nails are most commonly involved, while the patient constantly seeks reassurance about appearance from friends and family. There is a broad spectrum of severity in body dysmorphic disorder, ranging from obsessional worry to frank delusion, and the psychiatric comorbidities-anxiety, depression, and personality disorder-are prominent parts of the picture. Unfortunately, the psychiatric comorbidities and the negative impact on every aspect of the patient's life may not be recognized by dermatologists and other non-psychiatric physicians, so that effective treatment is often not instituted or appropriate referrals made. This paper describes the incidence, possible etiologies, and clinical picture of body dysmorphic disorder in dermatology patients and discusses interpersonal approaches that may permit appropriate treatment or referral to take place. Specific treatments and prognosis are also discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Body Dysmorphic Disorders / epidemiology
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorders / etiology
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorders / psychology*
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorders / therapy
  • Comorbidity
  • Dermatology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Treatment Outcome