Stress is a pervasive issue in today's fast-paced world, and it can have a negative impact on many aspects of our lives, including our physical health. When it comes to skin, stress can wreak havoc, especially for people with existing skin conditions like psoriasis. In honour of National Stress Awareness Month this April, let's dive deeper into how stress affects our skin and what we can do to combat its negative effects.
Stress and its Impact on the Skin
First, it's essential to understand what stress is and how it affects our bodies. Stress is our body's natural response to any perceived threat or danger. When we feel stressed, our bodies release hormones like cortisol and adrenaline to help us cope with the situation. These hormones increase our heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure, preparing us to fight or flee.
While this response can be helpful in short-term situations, chronic stress can be harmful to our bodies. Over time, the constant release of stress hormones can lead to a host of health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and depression. If this sounds like you, it’s always best to contact a medical professional.
One way that stress can manifest physically is through our skin. When we experience stress, our body's inflammatory response is triggered, leading to inflammation throughout the body, including the skin. This inflammation can exacerbate existing skin conditions or even cause new ones to develop.
For people with psoriasis, stress can be particularly damaging. Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disorder that causes skin cells to build up rapidly, leading to thick, scaly patches on the skin. Stress can trigger or worsen psoriasis flare-ups, making it even more difficult to manage the condition.
How Stress Affects the Skin
Stress can affect our skin in a variety of ways. Here are some of the most common:
- Acne: Stress can increase the production of oil in our skin, leading to breakouts and acne.
- Wrinkles: Chronic stress can lead to premature ageing, including the development of fine lines and wrinkles.
- Rosacea: Stress can trigger or worsen rosacea, a skin condition that causes redness and flushing in the face.
- Eczema: Stress can trigger or worsen eczema, a chronic skin condition that causes dry, itchy patches on the skin.
- Psoriasis: As mentioned earlier, stress can trigger or worsen psoriasis, causing flare-ups and making the condition more difficult to manage. (Check out our previous article about managing psoriasis in colder weather too).
- Hives: Stress can cause hives, a skin reaction that causes raised, itchy bumps on the skin.
- Hair loss: Chronic stress can cause hair loss, particularly in women.
Managing Stress to Improve Skin Health
While we can't always avoid stress, there are steps we can take to manage it and improve our skin health. Here are some tips:
- Practice stress-reducing techniques: Meditation, deep breathing, and yoga are all great ways to reduce stress and promote relaxation.
- Exercise regularly: Regular exercise can help reduce stress and improve overall health, including skin health. Even something as simple as a walk and some fresh hair could massively help.
- Get enough sleep: Getting enough sleep is essential for overall health and can help reduce stress levels.
- Eat a healthy diet: A healthy diet that's rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help reduce inflammation in the body and improve skin health. Make sure you have a nutritious breakfast to help set you up for the day too.
- Take care of your skin: Taking care of your skin can help reduce the impact of stress on your skin. Use gentle, non-irritating products to manage your problem skin conditions, and moisturise regularly to keep your skin healthy and hydrated.
- Seek professional help: If you're struggling with chronic stress, consider seeking professional help from a therapist or counsellor.
Stress is a part of life, and it can have a significant impact on our skin health, particularly for people with existing skin conditions like psoriasis. Understanding how stress affects our bodies and our skin is essential, but so is taking steps to manage stress and reduce its impact on our skin health.
By practising stress-reducing techniques like meditation and yoga into our daily routines, getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and taking care of our skin, we can improve our overall health and reduce the negative effects of stress on our skin.
For people with psoriasis or other skin conditions, managing stress is especially important. By working with a dermatologist and a mental health professional, you can develop a comprehensive plan to manage your condition and reduce the impact of stress on your skin. We hope the above tips and tricks help, but always remember to contact a healthcare professional if you need any further support.
What tips would you share with the community to help deal with stress? Let us know!