Saturday, May 18, 2024

The Connection Between Stress and Skin Health

Photo by Christian Erfurt on Unsplash

Do you feel stressed out at times? You are not alone. If you are not stressing about school or work, you may be thinking about a relationship, health, kids, retirement, finances, name it. 

Stress is categorized into two: acute and chronic. Acute stress occurs after a specific event triggers a psychological or physiological reaction like healing wounds or promoting mental clarity. Chronic stress, however, is prolonged and affects your overall well-being, including skin health. 

This guide explores the connection between stress and skin health and helpful ways to reduce stress. 

How Stress Affects Skin Health

Your body perceives stress as a threat or challenge. When stressed, your brain triggers the release of stress hormones, which can cause physiological or behavioral changes that impact your skin. 

How Stress Affects Physiological Changes 

Your brain triggers an overproduction of cortisol whenever you feel overwhelmed. This stress hormone disrupts the epidermal barrier, slowing the production of healthy oils that moisturize skin. This explains why some people have dry skin when stressed. 

For others, cortisol stimulates excessive oil production from the sebaceous glands. The excess oil clogs the pores, making the skin prone to acne. Additionally, the continuous overproduction of cortisol inhibits the skin’s ability to produce collagen and hyaluronic acid, making your skin thinner. 

Stress also affects your immune system. When stressed, your skin becomes more sensitive, which easily triggers redness, rashes, and hives.  Other times when under duress, your body produces high levels of histamine to cause stress rashes/hives. 

Chronic stress can worsen pre-existing skin conditions. It can aggravate and flare up alopecia, eczema, psoriasis, vitiligo, and rosacea. 

Stress also stimulates the production of free radicals, molecules that target other healthy cells. You develop fine lines and wrinkles when free radicals attack collagen and elastin, and skin cancer when it affects the DNA.  

The hair is also a part of the skin affected by stress. Psychological stress has been linked to causing telogen effluvium, a type of hair loss. Furthermore, stress can cause gray hair.  

How Stress Affects Behavioral Changes 

We have different behavioral responses when stressed. Some people unconsciously touch their faces, transferring bacteria and germs onto them, resulting in skin infections. Others scratch the skin or pick at pimples until the skin breaks. 

On the other hand, some people drop their healthy habits when stressed. They feel less inclined to stick to healthy diets, exercise regularly, or get enough rest, indirectly impacting their skin health. 

7 Ways to Manage Stress for Better Skin Health

Your skin will be much better when you reduce your stress levels. Here are seven helpful ways to do so. 

  • Regular Exercises: They stimulate the body to produce feel-good hormones, which uplift your mood and energy. 
  • Eat a Well-Balanced Diet: Avoid foods, i.e., processed foods that trigger inflammation, and opt for fresh fruits and vegetables. 
  • Get Enough Sleep: Aim for at least 7 hours a night to increase your energy levels and mood. 
  • Have Some Me-Time: Create time for those activities that make you happy.  
  • Stick to Your Skin Care Routine: Ensure you have your daily skincare routine even when you don’t feel like it. For instance, if you signed up on to perfect your jawline, free some time daily to practice.
  • Try Stress Management Techniques: Some proven techniques include meditation, breathing, journaling, and yoga. 
  • Ask for Help: Contact a professional therapist if you feel overwhelmed. 

Final Thoughts

Stress impacts not only your brain but also your skin. Acne, rash, hives, hair loss, or gray hair are signs that your skin is under immense pressure. But, you can prevent skin stress by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, acknowledging when you are stressed, and then finding ways to manage it. 


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