The Role of Stress in Skin Health

The Role of Stress in Skin Health

Since it’s our largest organ, what’s on the outside – the wrinkles, scars, freckles, birth marks and other marks – often signifies what’s happening on the inside. Psychological stress can trigger or worsen acne, psoriasis and eczema.

Stress responses activate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and release of cortisol by the adrenal glands, as well as release of neuropeptides from neural fibres. Stress mediators produced in response to stress might impair barrier integrity and stimulate tissue immune dysregulation that interferes with procedures that regulate both healing and inflammatory responses.

Increased Oil Production

Being stressed makes the body secrete extra amounts of the hormone cortisol, a component of the neuroendocrine system that helps the body deal with stressful situations. (In this case, cortisol causes the sebaceous glands to overproduce oil – sebum – an extra dose of grease that clogs pores and can trigger breakouts or flare-ups, such as psoriasis, rosacea or eczema flare ups. Manage it by taking good care of yourself physically – getting regular exercise, getting enough sleep and eating a diet of low-glycemic foods will all help keep your cortisol levels low and keep your skin healthy. Take care with your daily skincare routine of cleansers, toners and moisturisers; twice a day is best.

Increased Inflammation

Yet inflammation is also a natural response – it is your body’s innate defence against cuts, infections and injury. Prolonged stress can lead to chronic inflammation within the body, leaving you open for attack ­– it can slow your recovery time and even exacerbate some skin problems such as psoriasis, eczema and acne, according to studies conducted on healthy volunteers. As we’ve seen, skin talks to the brain, and vice versa, via the skin-brain axis, including neurotransmitters and hormones reaching the brain and the nervous and immune systems. Stressful psychological incidents trigger psychological reactions in skin, contributing to further anxiety. They can easily relieve the stress level leading the owner to undergo better health and improved quality of life, as well as increase life expectancy.
People find relaxation while sleeping, resting and focusing on physical exercises which reduce stress level greatly.
To people that are unable to control stress levels alone, the services of counsellor get to be of greater significance.

Reduced Barrier Function

Cortisol wreaks havoc with your skin barrier, making it more dry and permeable, leading to increased water loss from your skin, all of which results in sensitive, inflamed, painful skin, and increased infection risk or longer times for wound healing. Epidermal antimicrobial peptide expression can be suppressed, water loss and the rate of transepidermal water loss (TEWL) are increased, skin repair processes are impaired and the production of pro-inflammatory molecules as well as the synthesis of collagen by the dermatofibroblasts are diminished. The answer, then, seems to be a two-fold one: to keep stress levels in check and to look after your skin, get your beauty sleep and stay hydrated and well-nourished, and make sure any barrier-degrading products (such as glycolic acid or salicylic acid) in your skincare routine (eg, products containing glycolic acid or salicylic acid) are countered if necessary.

Increased Sensitivity

Chronic skin problems, such as psoriasis, rosacea, eczema and others, can be aggravated by stress. Cortisol triggers sebaceous glands to increase oil production, which can lead to more breakouts. Stress can exacerbate all of the above. Stress decreases expression of epidermal antimicrobial peptides and barrier repair mechanisms while facilitating mast cell migration to the skin surface, the site of itching. Drawing a bath filled with bubbles, having plenty of rest, or heading to bed are all good ways to reduce stress when your skin is not playing ball. Just remember that stress is unavoidable and takes many forms – your skin will inevitably be stressed at points, just like any other part of your body. By finding ways to minimise the negatives and keep yourself sane, your skin can stand a better chance of surviving any stressful situations, but don’t forget that instead of lying in bed and worrying about spots, you could be doing far more fun things.

Dull & Tired Skin

Each day, it sheds a constellation of dead cells – and, when this process is not working correctly, those dead cells can build up on its surface, reflecting less light and giving skin a dull, listless look as pores become clogged. Stress exacerbates pre-existing conditions such as dry skin, psoriasis and eczema (spots, breakouts, flaky or itchy scalp and premature ageing) – a common yet damaging effect of living in modern society. Then, if the symptom still arises, find out what causes it, and treat that. Avoid irritating, harsh or drying ingredients that might damage your skin barrier; seek products with moisturising and replenishing ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid, that can penetrate deep into the skin to replenish water levels.

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