Stress can have a significant negative influence on your health, including the condition of your skin. According to specialists, stress can cause breakouts and aggravate skin diseases like eczema and psoriasis. This is just one example of how how how you’re feeling on the inside can manifest on the outside.
According to board-certified dermatologist Doris Day, MD, who has a clinic in New York City, “Your mood can absolutely affect your skin, and your skin can affect your mood.”
Additionally, taking care of your skin might improve your mood on its own. When you need it most, a good skin-care routine can encourage awareness, uplift your spirits, and help you be kind to yourself.
The health of your skin can also be significantly impacted by your emotions and attitude. Here are five ways your psyche may manifest on the surface of your skin.
1. Controlling eczema, rosacea, and other skin conditions might be more difficult while under stress
Your body releases the hormone cortisol when you are anxious, which starts the fight-or-flight reaction. Cortisol has some benefits, such as giving us energy during the day, according to the Cleveland Clinic, but it’s also linked to a number of unfavorable side effects.
According to Joshua Zeichner, MD, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, this has an impact on the skin in terms of poor wound healing and worse inflammatory skin disorders.
Stress harms the skin, as we are aware, according to Dr. Zeichner. A hormone called CRH is produced more frequently in the brain. In order to get our bodies ready for flight or combat, the hormone instructs our adrenal glands to make more cortisol.
CRH stands for corticotropin-releasing hormone, as noted in the earlier study. According to Zeichner, CRH binds to our oil glands and causes an increase in oil production, which can lead to acne outbreaks.
For instance, a tiny study discovered a strong correlation between stress levels and enhanced acne severity. Higher levels of stress were also associated with more severe acne among female medical students in their twenties, according to another study that was published in 2017 in Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology.
According to the National Eczema Association, eczema (also known as atopic dermatitis) can result in symptoms like dry, itchy, and sensitive skin. (NEA). According to the NEA, stress and worry frequently induce eczema flare-ups. (which, the organization points out, can then lead to even more anxiety and stress).
What exactly is happening? According to NEA, the physiological stress response in our bodies floods us with the hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which can ultimately lead to inflammation and weaken the immune system.
Naturally, stress is a part of daily life and cannot be avoided. It’s important to remember that the objective is to develop effective stress management techniques rather than to completely eradicate stress.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, stress can also cause rosacea, a common skin disorder marked by facial redness and inflammatory lesions, to flare up. According to the National Rosacea Society, some peptides that the nervous system releases in response to stress may trigger inflammation and widen blood vessels, resulting in blushing and flushing. (NRS). In a previous NRS study, two-thirds of individuals questioned claimed that stress management—or altering how you react to stress—helped lessen symptom flare-ups.
Other skin-related conditions, such as psoriasis, itching, and hives, can be made worse by stress, according to the American Psychological Association (APA). This is why.
Stress affects the immune system, which makes it a known trigger for the autoimmune disease psoriasis. (in which an overactive immune system causes the body to mistakenly attack its own tissue).
According to a study published in the April 2018 issue of Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, stress, anxiety, and itch all have similar neural system pathways and can all contribute to one another.
According to the American Institute of Stress, histamines are released when stress sends your body into a fight-or-flight mode, and some people experience hives as a result.
Skin Rules author and board-certified dermatologist Debra Jaliman advises her patients to strive to control their stress in order to keep it from showing up on their skin. She frequently recommends relaxing music, a warm bath, or a massage.
2. Skin-Picking Can Be Caused by Anxiety
To deal with their worry, some people pick at their skin. According to Mental Health America, chronic skin-picking is an obsessive-compulsive disorder-related repetitive behavior that is body-focused.
According to MHA, this is a mental disorder brought on by genetics, modifications in brain chemistry linked to the development of habits, stress, and worry. If you have [this], don’t be hard on yourself or judge yourself, advises Dr. Day. A combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and antidepressant medication, such as an SSRI, is used in treatment. (CBT).
Board-certified dermatologist and MyPsoriasisTeam contributor Anna Chacon, MD, says she frequently observes worried patients indulging in behaviors like ripping their hair out or picking at their skin. She cites acne excoriée as another illustration, which is “observed in people who frequently pick at their acne bumps.”
According to research, stress and worry make acne excoriée worse, and “unfortunately, it sometimes can leave scarring,” according to Dr. Chacon. Skin picking can leave scars in addition to opening up wounds or causing new ones, which can spread infection and result in a cycle of humiliation and embarrassment, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety can be managed via the practice of healthy habits like exercise and mindfulness. (NIMH).
Anxiety on occasion is entirely normal. But, according to NIMH, it’s a good idea to get help if it persists, gets worse, and starts to interfere with your everyday functioning. It might be challenging to locate a specialist who is knowledgeable about skin-picking diseases. A fantastic place to start is the SkinPick site, which provides a state-by-state database of treatment centers and self-help tools.
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3. Poor Skin-Care Practices Are Linked to Depression
According to the Mayo Clinic, daily routines like a balanced diet and lots of sleep encourage healthy skin. However, according to the Mayo Clinic and the Sleep Foundation, depressed individuals may struggle to eat healthily or get enough sleep.
Day adds, “You might not sleep well when you’re unhappy.” You might not always eat as healthily. You could be dehydrating yourself. You may not breathe deeply; instead, you may breathe more shallowly, depriving yourself of oxygen. Your body’s health can be impacted by all of these factors, and as your skin is your body’s largest organ, this can be seen on it.
According to Chacon, those who are depressed could neglect their skin-care routines and other self-care practices. Depression is a severe mental disorder, and one aspect of it may be a decreased desire for self-care practices that maintain good skin and body.
Treatment for depression symptoms can have a positive impact on your mood, encourage you to engage in enjoyable activities again, and enhance your sleep, energy levels, and cognitive function, among many other advantages. You could feel more inspired to engage in self-care practices like exercise, a healthy diet, and decent skincare if these parts of your life have improved.
Consult a mental health professional for treatment if you believe you or a loved one is depressed.
4. Squinting Leads to Wrinkles
Please don’t see this as a warning not to express yourself, but know that frowning while angry might harm your skin. According to Chacon, persistent frowning leaves forehead wrinkles that are permanently imprinted.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, lines appear on the forehead, in between the brows, and around the corners of the eyes as a result of the minute muscle contractions that take place when you frown or squint. These lines amplify and eventually wrinkle as time passes.
Day advises developing the practice of smiling or deliberately adopting a relaxed expression. When this happens, she explains, “you’ll sort of stimulate the emotions that will help your skin look and age better.”
Day likes to encourage her patients to pull their ears back as one of her favorite tricks. She claims that even if individuals are unable to grin, the motion nevertheless activates the muscles involved in smiling.
5. Positive Emotions Neutralize the Harmful Effects of Stress on Skin Over the past two decades, dermatologists have increasingly come to understand the link between mental health and skin health, according to the APA. Consider how easily you can blush just from feeling uncomfortable or self-conscious.
According to research, stress is one of the key factors influencing this relationship, which explains why having poor or inadequate mental health might result in skin problems. (as described above).
Therefore, it would seem to reason that the opposite—a calm or optimistic mental state—would prevent these negative consequences of stress on the skin.
According to Zeichner, it may be due to higher levels of several chemicals linked to good mood states, such as dopamine and serotonin. According to Zeichner and the Cleveland Clinic, these hormones control mood and keep you centered, stable, and content.
However, aside from the fact that stress—the antithesis of a high mood—has detrimental effects on the skin, there isn’t much concrete data to support the claim that a good mood improves skin health.
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Zeichner says, “I absolutely encourage my patients to do everything they can to relax and be in a good mood. We need long-term research to establish if cheerful people age better than those who are furious or worried.