We’ve all heard this age-old adage, but is there truth to this cliche?
Psychological stress can negatively impact the health of your skin. Stress can cause unnecessary inflammatory reactions which reduces your skin’s ability to maintain its barrier. When the body is stressed, the skin sees an increase of cytokine and keratinocyte production, which triggers inflammatory skin conditions including psoriasis, eczema, alopecia areata, acne, and dermatitis. While inflammation is vital to keeping your body healthy and free from real threats, an overreaction– like work-related stress– can lead to new or worsening skin flare-ups. In 2001, the Journal of Investigative Dermatology published a study that showed how different forms of stress affected skin function. Their experiment found that while physical stress from exercise didn’t impact barrier function, sleep deprivation and psychological stress resulted in delayed skin recovery, as well as an increase of cortisol and killer cell activity. As the largest organ in the body, the skin is greatly impacted by inflammation. As the primary component of skin, collagen in particular can lose its integrity from stress on the immune system.
In addition to the toll on your immune system, undue stress can lead to a lapse in self-care.
While stress itself can compromise or degrade your skin, so can skipping out on your healthy habits. While stress can make us feel sluggish and anxious, it’s important to continue sleeping well, maintaining personal hygiene, and eating healthy foods. Without these positive habits, the immune system can become even more compromised and lead to more health issues. If you’ve noticed an increase in breakouts, redness, irritation, or other inflammatory conditions, consider how stress may be impacting your health. As always, any concern you have about your health should be discussed with a doctor. In light of the ongoing pandemic, Telehealth options may be useful for counseling or other mental health services. Some tips for managing stress in your life include:
- Practicing deep breathing exercises
- Maintaining proper sleep hygiene and getting enough rest
- Getting regular exercise
- Eating a balanced diet