The Surprising Link Between Stress and Skin Health

Stress is a common part of our everyday lives. We all experience stress differently, but regardless of how it affects us, it takes a toll on our health. Headaches, stomachaches, and mood swings are some of the common symptoms of stress. However, the effects are stress are widespread and go beyond this. Stress can impact our physical, mental, and emotional well-being, as well as our skin health. This article will explore the surprising link between stress and skin health.

First, let’s discuss how stress affects our bodies. Our bodies release a natural hormone called Cortisol when we are experiencing stress. This is an essential hormone for the body and takes on many important roles. However, when cortisol is excessively produced, it has several negative effects on our bodies. This includes increasing blood sugar levels, taking a toll on our immune systems, and affecting the skin. One of the leading causes of acne is a result of the skin overproducing oil from an overabundance of cortisol. This can lead to clogged pores and breakouts.

Not only does stress cause acne, but stress can exacerbate skin conditions including eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis. Individuals who suffer from these conditions notice symptoms becoming worse when experiencing stress. It also acts as a trigger for these conditions to occur. Stress hormones negatively affect the skin’s barrier by causing changes in its lipids and proteins. With a damaged skin barrier, the skin is more vulnerable to allergens and other environmental irritants.

Stress accelerates the signs of aging. When we experience stress, our body produces an excess number of free radicals. These are unstable molecules that cause damage to cells and tissues within the body. Individuals who overproduce free radicals are more likely to suffer from inflammation, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.  Free radicals lead to premature aging by damaging the skin cells.

What can we do to protect our skin from the effects of stress?

  1. Manage Stress: The first step is to manage your stress levels as much as possible. There are a variety of strategies to engage in to reduce your stress levels. This includes medication, deep breathing, and exercising regularly.
  2. Practice Consistent Skin Care: It is always a good idea to have a good, consistent routine in place when it comes to your skin. This should include gentle cleansing, moisturizing, and protecting the skin from the sun.
  3. Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help keep the skin hydrated, making it less prone to damage. You may be aware of the “cardinal rule” that recommends average adults drink 6-8 glasses per day. This simple step will help keep the skin looking and feeling healthy.
  4. Limit Caffeine and Alcohol: Not only do alcohol and caffeine dehydrate the body and skin, but they also contribute to inflammation. When the skin is inflamed, it is more vulnerable to damage. Therefore, it is important to limit your intake of these substances to protect your skin from the negative effects of stress.
  5. Get Enough Sleep: Getting adequate sleep is vital to maintaining vibrant skin and managing stress levels. The skin creates collagen while you sleep, which prevents sagging. 7-8 hours of sleep is recommended to promote your over health and skin’s appearance.
  6. Avoid Harsh Products: Products that contain exfoliants and astringents can disrupt the skin’s barrier function. When the skin is under stress, it is best to stay away from these kinds of skincare products.
  7. Balanced Diet: One of the most effective ways to combat free radicals that are produced when stress-induced is to consume a diet rich in antioxidants. Foods such as berries, nuts, seeds, and leafy greens are particularly high in antioxidants and help to neutralize the free radicals in the body, which in turn prevent them from causing damage.

The links between stress and skin health are complex. From acne to premature aging, stress has a variety of effects on our skin’s health. We can minimize these effects and keep our skin looking and feeling its best by taking the steps to manage our stress and care for our skin.

If you or someone you know is struggling to manage their skin’s health, contact a professional. Experts in the field can guide you in the right direction- whether that be tailored skin care products to fit your needs or advice on treatments. Dr. Gurgen and his staff provide caring and attentive services for various skin care needs. Make an appointment with our office today.