How Stress Can Impact Your Skin Health


Stress has become an integral part of our lives due to our fast-paced lifestyle and demanding work schedules. While its effects on mental and physical health are well-known, it's often overlooked how stress impacts our skin health. Chronic stress triggers the release of stress hormones, affecting the skin's exposure to itch, inflammation, irritation, and infection. The connection between the brain and skin means that stress can display visibly on our skin. Let's dive deep into this and understand how stress affects our skin and what measures we can implement to reduce its impact. 

How Are Stress And Skin Related? 

Our brain and skin (the body’s largest organ) are intimately connected; they communicate with each other and impact the quality of sleep and life in general. When our body is under constant stress from work, relationships, or life events, our skin feels the strain too. Stress hormones like cortisol and catecholamines mess with our skin, making it prone to itching, inflammation, and infections. This chemical reaction triggers inflammation and makes our skin more sensitive and slower to heal. 

So, when stress levels soar, our skin suffers too. Hence, it's essential to manage stress to keep our skin healthy and happy.

How Does Stress Impact Skin Health? 

Psychological stress can mess with the top layer of your skin, called the epidermal barrier. This layer keeps moisture in and protects against germs. Stress can slow down its healing, leading to irritated skin or chronic conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Stress can also make your skin age faster by breaking down collagen and elastin, which leads to more wrinkles and lines. Second, feeling stressed might lead to habits like teeth grinding or lip biting, which can also damage your skin. Dalya Sager, Senior Medical Aesthetician and Skin Expert at BROWZ, adds stress causes an increase in the release of the hormone Cortisol, commonly known as the 'stress hormone' this can have a large impact on how our skin ages. 

Highlighting how stress interferes with rejuvenation, Dalya Sager, Senior Medical Aesthetician and Skin Expert at BROWZ, says, "Stress hormones break down the collagen and elastin in the skin and interfere with rejuvenation, which can speed up the ageing process causing more fine lines and wrinkles and laxity in the skin. The hair and its growth are also affected by stress by contributing to hair thinning and hair loss. While most stress-induced hair loss is temporary, it’s important to address it quickly to prevent irreversible damage."

Furthermore, chronic stress can compromise the skin's natural barrier function, leading to increased water loss and reduced protection against environmental aggressors. It can result in dryness, sensitivity, and a higher risk of skin infections. Sharing her inputs on this, Dr Tanya Unni, Skincare and Cosmetic Care Specialist, Founder of Dr Tanya Skincare, adds, "Stress may influence the production of sebum (skin oil), potentially leading to an imbalance that contributes to oily or dry skin conditions. Stress can also make the skin more reactive and sensitive, leading to a heightened response to internal and external triggers, potentially manifesting as redness, itching, or discomfort."

Skin Conditions Caused Or Worsen By Stressed

Giving us a brief insight on this, Dr Tanya Unni, Skincare and Cosmetic Care Specialist, and Founder of Dr Tanya Skincare, shares that while stress can worsen existing skin conditions, there are a few specific skin conditions, that are directly caused by stress. These include:

Eczema: This condition is characterised by skin that is red, dry, and itchy, and can be worsened by scratching. Stress can trigger eczema flare-ups, and, in some cases, lead to the development of eczema. 

Acne: Stress hormones can increase oil production in the skin, leading to clogged pores and acne breakouts. Stress-induced acne is displayed as pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, and cysts.

Hives: Hives are raised, red, and itchy bumps that can develop due to an allergic reaction, but stress can also trigger them. They can appear anywhere on the body and range in size, shape, and severity.

Some Effective Strategies To Manage Stress-Related Skin Problems 

Dealing with stress-related skin issues can be challenging, but with regular care and mindfulness, you can effectively manage them. Two essential approaches include:

Skincare Routine: Developing and adhering to a gentle skincare regimen using products suitable for sensitive or stressed skin can help maintain skin barrier function and reduce the risk of flare-ups.

Consultation With A Healthcare Professional: Seeking guidance from a dermatologist or healthcare provider can help identify specific stress-related skin issues and develop a treatment plan tailored to individual needs and circumstances.

Dalya Sager, Senior Medical Aesthetician and Skin Expert at BROWZ, suggests that practising positive mindfulness can have a knock-on effect on all ailments, especially those that manifest themselves on our skin. Although one cannot escape daily and life stresses in general, we can practice and master the art of positivity by focusing on the upside of situations. This may be a huge ask, however, the practice of mind over matter is a practice that has personally served me well.

Lifestyle Changes Or Stress-Reduction Techniques For Skin Health

First and foremost, identify the primary stressors and explore holistic methods such as journaling and therapy. Once you learn and assess these factors, integrate stress-relief practices and embrace healthy lifestyle habits.

  • Stress Management Techniques: Engaging in activities that help reduce stress, such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises, can lower cortisol levels and minimise the inflammatory response in the skin. 
  • Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and maintaining good sleep hygiene can positively impact overall stress levels and contribute to improved skin health. 

And while these techniques are effective in the long run, Dalya Sager, Senior Medical Aesthetician and Skin Expert at BROWZ, adds, "Mind-body techniques are not a one-size-fits-all approach. Everyone has a unique relationship to stress, and our perception and experience with stress determines how it impacts us and how we respond to different stress management techniques. Individuals should use the techniques that work best for them." 

Skin Care Tips 

The type of skincare products or treatments that may be recommended for managing stress-induced skin problems depends on the underlying skin condition and specific symptoms. Dr Tanya Unni, Skincare and Cosmetic Care Specialist, Founder of Dr Tanya Skincare, suggests some recommendations: 

  • Cleanser: Choose a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser that won't strip away the skin's natural oils. Opt for a moisturising cleanser to add to the skin's barrier function during flare-ups.
  • Moisturiser: Look for a fragrance-free, soothing, and hydrating moisturiser to help reduce inflammation and itchiness. Additionally, products that contain ceramides or hyaluronic acid help repair and retain the skin's protective barrier function.
Share this page!
Connector Directory