Shyness and social anxiety 

Shyness and social anxiety are common amongst people with skin conditions. These terms refer to mild fear or stress at the prospect of social interaction and can be very debilitating, leading to social isolation and difficulties with work and relationships. For people with a skin condition social anxiety may be because we are:

  • Nervous that we may be judged by others because of our skin condition
  • Worried that our skin condition may limit our social interactions

This support guide will provide you with general information on how to recognise these issues, and how to deal with them. We will also provide suggestions on building confidence in social situations, overcoming isolation, and living with a skin condition at the start of an intimate relationship. At the end we will also provide more in-depth support materials that we have collected from different organisations and from around the internet.

Overcoming social isolation

Social isolation occurs when we get cut off from society and stop having contact with other people. This can occur for different reasons, but health and social anxiety are common factors. In the long term social isolation can cause low mood problems, feelings of loneliness, and even increase anxiety.

For those of us who’s social isolation is self-imposed there are steps we can take to overcome this. There are exercises we can try in order to overcome social anxiety, and in turn, social isolation. Central to this is understanding our isolation, which social occasions are we missing, why are we missing them, and the intensity of our anxiety in these social situations.

Building self-confidence

Self-confidence is key to reducing anxiety and shyness; if you can improve your confidence levels it can be hugely beneficial to your general emotional wellbeing. The key to this is to start recognising the negative patterns that evoke feelings of doubt, anxiety and shyness. Once you can recognise these negative thoughts then it is easier to challenge them. To learn more about building self-confidence read our leaflet on ‘Building self-confidence in social situations’ which has exercises you can practice to help build your self-confidence over time.

Skin conditions and intimate relationships

A common challenge for people with a skin condition is navigating the beginning of a new relationship, particularly intimate ones. Disclosing information about your condition and being comfortable with a new person seeing you at your most vulnerable can be very difficult for some people.

Luckily we have a whole leaflet on this topic, it contains cognitive behavioural therapy techniques to help make this process easier, as well as straightforward examples of how you can approach this topic.

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