Everyday life can be stressful enough -- and in a year as turbulent as 2020, most of us are feeling even more stressed out than usual. While stress has historically been considered merely a psychological phenomenon, researchers now understand that stress has physical repercussions as well. The most notable manifestations of stress typically occur on the skin. Of course, stress affects everyone’s skin somewhat differently, but the more stressed you are, the more likely you are to experience skin problems.
Those with acne can probably tell you that stress seems to contribute to further breakouts, but they might not know why. The real culprit here is cortisol, a hormone that is produced when the body is under significant stress, and which signals the skin to produce more oil. This increase in oil can clog pores and cause breakouts. Acne isn’t the only type of breakout triggered by stress. Stress related hives and rashes can also occur due to changes in hormonal levels. These changes can expand blood vessels, leading to red, swollen areas of skin.
Stress doesn’t just cause skin problems -- it can also worsen one’s existing skin problems. Inflammatory conditions such as eczema and those related to immune system issues like psoriasis are two prime examples of this phenomenon. There are multiple theories as to why stress aggravates these conditions. For one thing, the chemicals produced during a stress response can exacerbate inflammation. Stress also seems to interfere with the healing process that would normally reduce symptoms related to psoriasis and eczema -- stress can lead one to touch one’s skin more frequently, scratching itches, peeling scabs, etc., which leads to further inflammation and slower healing.
Not only is it stressful to lose one’s hair -- stress can actually contribute to such hair loss in the first place, creating an unfortunate follicular feedback loop. There are several ways in which stress can induce hair loss. Alopecia areata refers to a type of hair loss specifically triggered by stress. When the body undergoes severe stress, it can prompt the immune system to attack otherwise healthy parts of the body, such as hair follicles. This auto-immune response describes alopecia areata. Telogen effluvium is another stress-related form of hair loss, where hair follicles go into a resting phase due to stress and eventually fall out.
By now, it should be clear that the relationship between stress and your skin is a close one. If you want to take good care of your skin, you must also take steps to reduce stress in your life. Here are some ways to de-stress for the sake of your skin and overall health:
There are stressful times. The experts at Premier Dermatology Partners are here to help you navigate them so your skin stays healthy through it all and beyond. To learn more about our providers and all the services we offer, contact us today, contact us.