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The Effects of Stress on the Skin

Stress can affect the whole body, including your hair, nails, and skin. It’s all to do with the hormones in your body. Have you noticed, for example, that when you’re stressed, you’re more likely to break out in spots? Stress is a part of life and sometimes it’s impossible to avoid it. What matters, however, is how you handle it.

How does stress affects your skin?

Here, we take a look at some of the ways stress affects the skin. As we all know, knowledge is power, and if you’re informed and able to spot the signs of stress on skin, you’ll be in a much better position to manage the symptoms and know when it’s time to seek the help of a qualified dermatologist.

  1. Skin irritation: Stress doesn’t just affect your mental state; it can manifest physically too. When stress levels spike, the body releases hormones like adrenaline, which can lead to irritated skin. This irritation may present as rashes or hives, similar to a condition called adrenergic urticaria, where stress triggers the release of histamines, causing the skin to react.
  2. Hair changes: The connection between stress and premature greying of hair is more than just anecdotal. Studies suggest that stress can indeed accelerate the greying process.
  3. Hair Loss: Stress hormones can interfere with the hair growth cycle, leading to thinning or even halting hair growth altogether.
  4. A weakened immune system: Stress doesn’t just affect the mind and body; it also impacts the immune system’s functionality. Prolonged stress can suppress immune function, making the skin more susceptible to infections and diseases. This weakened defence mechanism can leave the skin vulnerable to various pathogens and slow the healing process.
  5. Aggravate existing conditions: If you’re already dealing with skin conditions like psoriasis, rosacea or eczema, stress can exacerbate symptoms. Stress triggers inflammation in the body, which can worsen these conditions, leading to flare-ups and increased discomfort. Additionally, stress can provoke the onset of hives and other types of skin rashes, as well as trigger outbreaks of fever blisters, making managing existing skin issues even more challenging.
  6. Dry skin and wrinkles: Chronic stress takes a toll on the skin’s health and appearance over time. Stress hormones, particularly cortisol, can disrupt the skin’s moisture balance, leading to dryness and a higher likelihood of acne breakouts. Moreover, prolonged stress can accelerate the aging process, causing the skin to lose elasticity and develop wrinkles prematurely. This is due to cortisol’s ability to alter the structure of proteins in the skin, contributing to a tired and aged appearance.

How to manage the effects of stress on the skin

Now you know more about the effects of stress on your body, it’s just as important to be able to manage it. Check out our five top tips to keep your skin as healthy as possible:

  1. Establish a daily routine: When stress hits it’s tempting to let your skincare routine slide. However, maintaining your daily skincare regimen is crucial for keeping your skin healthy. Consistency helps regulate the oils in your skin, preventing breakouts and maintaining a radiant complexion.
  2. Get some exercise: Exercise isn’t just beneficial for your physical health, it’s also great for your skin. Regular physical activity improves blood circulation, delivering essential nutrients and oxygen to the skin cells. This helps rejuvenate the skin, giving it a healthy glow while also reducing stress levels.
  3. Take some me-time: Amidst the chaos of life, carving out time for yourself is essential for managing stress and maintaining overall wellbeing, including skin health. Even just a brief 10-minute break to indulge in activities you enjoy can work wonders. Whether it’s soaking in a relaxing bath, diving into a good book, tending to your garden or trying out yoga and meditation, these moments of relaxation can help alleviate stress and promote skin rejuvenation.
  4. Prioritise sleep: Adequate sleep is vital for skin repair and regeneration. Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night to allow your body to rest and recover from the day’s stressors. During sleep, your body undergoes crucial repair processes, including cell turnover and collagen production, which are essential for maintaining healthy, youthful-looking skin.
  5. Speak to a someone: Don’t underestimate the power of talking about your stressors with someone you trust. Sharing your feelings and concerns can provide relief and perspective, easing the burden of stress. Whether it’s a friend, family member, or professional counsellor, reaching out for support can help you better manage stress and prevent it from taking a toll on your skin and overall wellbeing.

How Novus Health can help

If you live in the Wakefield area and believe your skin issues require specialist help, ask your GP to refer you to Novus Health dermatology.

Our dermatologists diagnose, investigate, treat and manage the conditions of NHS patients with skin disease, as well as hair and nail complaints. And the good news is, it won’t cost you a penny.

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