Association of psychological stress with skin symptoms among medical students

Saudi Med J. 2018 Jan;39(1):59-66. doi: 10.15537/smj.2018.1.21231.


To evaluate the association between psychological stress and skin symptoms among medical students. Methods: A cross-sectional study was carried out between January and June 2015. Electronic survey consists of Perceived Stress Questionnaire (PSQ) and Self-Reported Skin Complaints Questionnaire were distributed to all 1435 undergraduate students at College of Medicine, King Saud University (KSU), Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Results: Final analysis was performed on data from 529 (36.9%) students. Students were divided into three groups: least stressed students, n=135, PSQ index less than 0.39; highly stressed students, n=136, PSQ index greater than 0.61; and moderately stressed students, n=258. Older age, female gender, during exam weeks, and fourth and fifth years of medical school (all p less than 0.01) were associated with the highest perceived stress levels. When compared to least stressed students, highly stressed students suffered from more oily, waxy patches or flakes on scalp (p≤0.0001), dry/sore rash (p≤0.0001), warts (p≤0.0001), pimples (p≤0.0001), itchy skin (p≤0.0001), hands itchy rash (p≤0.0001), hair loss (p≤0.0001), pull-out own hair (p=0.008), scaly skin (p=0.012), troublesome sweating (p=0.016), nails biting (p=0.028), and other rashes on face (p= 0.028). Conclusion: Various common skin conditions could appear in context of psychological stress among medical students.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Educational Measurement
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Saudi Arabia / epidemiology
  • Sex Factors
  • Skin Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult