We are all familiar with the conventional ways that our skin becomes irritated. This could be anything from overexposure to the sun’s UV rays to not washing makeup off at the end of a long day. However, there are many other factors that can affect the skin.
It is widely known that stress takes a major toll on the body itself, but did you know that stress also majorly affects the skin? We live very quick, fast paced lives in 2018, therefore stress is something that is easily come by.
Forms of stress
Stress comes in many forms, including emotional stress, which may be associated with job, family life or financial troubles. There is also the possibility of physical stress, due to illness, surgery or overall poor nutritional health. Childbirth is also something that causes great physical stress on the body.
Skin diseases caused by stress
Stress is a well-known trigger for a large number of skin diseases.
- Acne: Stress is actually one of the biggest causes of acne. Skin very easily breaks out in times of emotional distress. One of the biggest problems is that acne causes stress, but stress also causes acne. Therefore, this can be a very difficult thing to control. Stress can cause your body to create more cortisol and other stress hormones. This, in turn, tells your glands to begin secreting more oil. Unfortunately, oily skin is much more prone to acne than skin that is less oily.
- Eczema: Eczema is a skin disease that, like acne, has many different triggers with one of them being stress. Patients with eczema often report that additional emotional stress in their lives causes their eczema symptoms to flare up. This could mean that the itchiness of the affected areas increases, there are more areas on the body with eczema or the areas you originally had become larger.
- Rosacea: This is a less commonly known skin disorder in which certain blood vessels enlarge giving the cheeks, nose and under eye areas a flushed appearance. This is most commonly found in adults. Stress is a proven trigger for rosacea flare ups, so managing stress is extremely important for those who experience rosacea. Considering the skin condition is stressful in itself, this can be extremely difficult.
- Psoriasis: For those who have psoriasis, stress seems to go hand-in-hand with the disorder. As with the above disorders, just having psoriasis can cause stress and therefore management of emotional stress is very important to managing the symptoms. A very vicious cycle can begin when stress causes the skin to condition to flare-up.
- Aging: A large amount of emotional stress in a person’s lifetime can actually speed up the visible signs of aging. Stress actually shortens the length of each DNA strand. As they become shorter, their structural integrity weakens, causing cells to age faster and die much younger.
Other stress-caused changes to the body
- Dull skin: When stressed, we tend to eat more unhealthily and we lack quality sleep. Combining those two factors with increased cortisol can lead to dull skin on the face and the rest of the body.
- Brittle nails: Chronic stress can actually cause brittle or peeling nails because when the body is experiencing stress, it is working overtime to support the more important systems in the body.
- Hair loss: Stress is a trigger for premature hair loss, particularly in women.
It can be extremely difficult to avoid stress. We are more available and more connected in 2018 than ever before. But avoiding certain aggravating factors can decrease the toll stress takes on the body. Things to avoid are:
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Unprotected sun exposure
Avoiding these will help decrease the amount of damage done to your skin from unavoidable stress.
Stress reduction techniques
Exercise is one of the most effective stress reduction techniques. It helps you to feel better physically and feel better about yourself as you experience positive changes in your body. Some find meditation to be helpful. This means something different to everyone. For you, meditating might mean setting aside quiet time during the day, focusing on your breath, getting a massage or doing an enjoyable hobby. A healthy diet that includes antioxidants can help to block the effects of stress before they can reach the skin. It is best to avoid foods that put more stress on your body like fatty, processed meats and excess sugar.
Stress can be somewhat controlled with mindful approaches and conscientious choices. These strategies will not only make you look and feel better, but they will also help your skin to be resilient to the unavoidable stresses that come into your life.