Have you always suspected that stress has the power to make your skin act up? Maybe you’ve noticed that your eczema flares when you are under pressure? Perhaps it feels like a new pimple pops up every day when your personal life is in shambles?
It’s true; feeling stressed can affect your skin and vice versa.
So many skin conditions are related to an inappropriate release of inflammatory chemicals and inflammation is your body’s response to a perceived threat to your health (the stress response). Inflammation plays a crucial role in keeping you healthy, because your body needs to defend itself from true dangers, like flu viruses. Your immune system gets ready to do battle. It does this by releasing chemicals like interleukins, which, in order to help protect your health, can cause inflammation.
If your genetics, environment, or both make you susceptible to certain skin-related ailments, this inflammation can also make them flare up. Stress is a general trigger that can make the skin misbehave in whatever way it’s prone to misbehaving (such as eczema, psoriasis, rosacea or acne). This doesn’t mean stress will cause these conditions if you don’t have them, just that it might make them harder to manage if you do.
Even if you don’t have an actual skin condition, dealing with way more stress than usual for a significant amount of time might make your immune system hyperirritable, so something that doesn’t normally bother your skin can make it freak out. If touching your face is your go-to nervous habit and you always break out when you’re stressed, that may be less a function of your immune system, and more a result of you introducing whatever’s on your hands to your face.
Stress can also make you more likely to skimp on your usual healthy habits, which can come with side effects. If you’re not sleeping well, if you’re not taking the time to wash your face, if you’re not eating well or drinking enough water, that can impact your skin negatively.
If your stress is irritating your skin or your skin is stressing you out, check in with a medical professional for help such as a dermatologist, explaining your problem (whether that’s acne, eczema, or something else), and seeing if they can make any recommendations for how to fix it or how to find someone who can.
As to the stress component: While stress may have a starring role here, it probably isn’t acting alone. Approaching the issue from all angles could get you that much closer to no longer wearing your stress on your skin. Contact a Stress Management Consultant to further discuss.