Stress is a common human condition, and everyone experiences it at some point in their lives. And while you may think of being stressed as solely a mental state, that’s not true – stress can affect your entire body, including the health of your hair, skin, and nails. Today, Florida Dermatology and Skin Cancer Centers is here to explain the impact that stress has on the health and appearance of your skin.
The Mind-Skin Connection
Your body responds to changes in your psychological state; conditions like stress, depression, and anxiety can cause new skin issues to develop or existing skin issues to flare up. When you feel stressed, your sympathetic nervous system releases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline into your body. Cortisol causes increased oil production in your skin glands, which can lead to clogged pores and acne breakouts. Chronic stress leads to constant increased levels of these hormones and can have a negative effect on your skin health.
Additionally, psychological conditions cause increased internal inflammation. When your body perceives a threat, the immune system sends out a response to handle it – that response is inflammation. Usually, inflammation helps protect and heal our bodies from microbes and wounds, but a body under stress causes the immune system to overreact and send out an inflammatory response.
Stress can also cause inflammation through the gut-skin connection. Stress impacts the balance of bacteria in your gut, which leads to a release of inflammation. Internal inflammation can manifest externally as skin conditions like acne, or eczema and psoriasis flare-ups. People with chronic inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea are more sensitive to flare ups when they are stressed.
If you want to learn more about how the gut microbiome relates to your skin health, read our blog here.
How Stress Affects Your Skin
There are many ways stress physically affects your skin:
- The stress hormone cortisol leads to an overproduction of sebum (oil) in your skin glands, which causes acne breakouts.
- Stress impacts your immune system, causes your skin to be more reactive and sensitive, and triggers rashes, hives, and redness.
- Stress exacerbates existing inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea, leading to flare ups.
- Stress may cause you to feel nervous or anxious, and pick at scabs or acne, or scratch your skin until it becomes red or breaks.
Tips to Keep Your Skin (and Your Mind) Stress-Free
There are many at-home steps you can take to ease the effects of stress on your skin.
- Maintain a good skin care routine every day, even on days when you feel too tired or anxious. If being stressed makes you feel tired, you may not want to take off your makeup and wash your face before bed. But try to stick with your routine anyway, because neglect could worsen your skin issues.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise releases feel-good hormones that will improve your energy, mood, and outlook.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet with whole foods and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Processed and sugar-laden foods trigger more inflammation inside your body.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep gives your body the time it needs to rest and heal, and good sleep improves your mood, energy levels, and cognition.
- Take time for yourself. Find the time to engage in a relaxing, re-energizing activity that makes you happy – read a book, take a warm bath, get a massage, listen to music, meditate, or practice yoga and deep breathing exercises.
Most importantly, we encourage you to talk to someone if stress is having a negative impact on your health and well-being. Confide in a trusted friend, family member, therapist or spiritual counselor. Even just knowing you have someone by your side can help you feel stronger in your capability to handle stress.
We also encourage you to seek help from the professionals at Florida Dermatology and Skin Cancer Centers. Our team can identify the underlying causes of your skin issues and help create an effective treatment plan. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.