The Effects of Stress on Your Skin
Being in a continuous nervous state is bad for your body overall. However, the most visible signs are the effects of stress on your skin. In fact, your skin is your body’s first defensive barrier. There’s also the aesthetic angle at play here, since the effects are visible.
Despite the fact that mental disorders are now becoming less stigmatized, they still don’t receive the necessary attention from society as a whole. This leads many people (especially those who don’t have the resources to access private mental health) to look for ways to manage these issues on their own.
Your skin is one of the most delicate organs of your body. For this reason, it’s only to be expected that it’ll be one of the first affected when you regularly experience stress. Indeed, your skin will demonstrate all the signs that your cortisol levels are beginning to affect your body.
The effects of stress on your skin
You’ve probably noticed that, when you’re stressed, your appearance deteriorates. It’s not just that you have a downcast expression or dark circles under your eyes from sleeping badly, but acne also appears more easily and wounds heal more slowly, among other effects.
This is due to chemical mechanisms that are regulated by hormones in your blood. They’re responding to a state of psychological alertness in you that’s lasting too long. Let’s take a look at the most common symptoms of the effects of stress on your skin.
Psychological stress has been shown to worsen acne. As the levels of cortisol in your blood increase, your skin secretes more fat, so the appearance of blackheads and pimples tends to increase.
2. Atopic dermatitis
Your skin becomes more sensitive at times of stress. This is actually useful, as all your senses are heightened during times of danger. However, it’s not so helpful when it happens continuously.
In fact, the vicious circle between itching and scratching ends up complicating the condition of your skin, causing atopic dermatitis to appear. This condition presents with welts, eczema, or rashes.
3. Seborrheic dermatitis
Cortisol increases the production of sebum in your skin. Seborrheic dermatitis is produced by this phenomenon. As in atopic dermatitis, in this condition, lesions appear on your skin that are aggravated by continuous scratching.
4. Psoriasis flare-ups
Psoriasis is a chronic disease characterized by the acceleration of the life cycle of skin cells, which die prematurely. However, it’s known that stress causes more frequent episodes than would be the case if it weren’t present.
5. Signs of skin aging
When your skin detects stressful events on the outside, such as temperature or pressure, it sends signals to the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. This triggers the release of cortisol and other hormones that move to solve the supposed problem.
This defense mechanism, when activated chronically, affects the blood supply to your skin. In fact, it’s diverted to your muscles and organs responsible for launching the fight-flight-freeze responses. The most striking effects of stress on your skin in these instances are as follows:
- Dull skin.
- Loss of elasticity.
6. Infections and healing problems
Stress also weakens your immune system. Therefore, it’s extremely likely that, in addition to falling ill more often, you’ll notice that your wounds heal more slowly and are more likely to become infected. This is especially prevalent in the case of acne.
What to do to avoid the effects of stress on your skin
Since the root of the problem is chronic stress, this is the first thing you should try to address. However, it’s easier to talk about fixing it than actually doing it, as you probably well know if you’ve ever been told: “Try not to worry”.
As a matter of fact, you shouldn’t underestimate the help of a psychology professional. Because facing life’s problems when you’re in a constant state of fear and anxiety isn’t easy. In fact, you may well not even know where to start. Therefore, relieving this stress will not only improve the health of your skin but your life in general.
In the meantime, you can combat the effects of stress on your skin with a treatment that improves its appearance and health. For this, you can consult your doctor or a trusted beauty clinic.It might interest you...
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Gracia, M.J. y Ruiz, S. Estrés, calidad de vida y psoriasis: estado actual. Psiquiatr Biol. 2001;08:141-5
- Cheng, Yi., Lyga, John.Brain-Skin Connection: Stress, Inflammation and Skin Aging. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4082169/
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