Does stress affect the skin?
Stress is a notorious culprit that can affect your whole body and immune system, including your skin, hair and nails. Stress can also trigger many types of skin conditions, e.g. acne, eczema, psoriasis and alopecia.
Since stress is a part of our daily life, what matters most is how you handle it. ‘Psychodermatogy’ is a relatively new term used in a ﬁeld that addresses the impact of an individual’s emotion as it relates to the skin. Psychodermatology is gaining more recognition with the integration of psychology and psychiatry into the holistic management of dermatological disorders. Essentially, to have healthy skin, a healthy state of mind is a priority.
How does stress affect our skin:
- It causes a chemical response in your body that makes skin more sensitive and reactive. It can also make it harder for skin conditions to heal. Do you notice that when you are stressed out, there is more acne eruption? This is because during stress, the body releases more stress hormones such as cortisol, which in turn leads to more sebum production thus, making the skin more likely to have the breakouts.
- Stress may potentially worsen existing skin conditions and trigger a ﬂare of skin diseases e.g. psoriasis, eczema, hives or other skin rashes.
- Stress may interfere with the way you care for your skin, and if you are stressed up, you may neglect your personal grooming and skin hygiene.
- Skin problems by themselves are stressful, and often times are visible to others, which in turn leads to stigmatisation.
- Often times, the sufferers are embarrassed about their skin and tend to keep to themselves, which adds more stress to the existing issues.
Although it is close to impossible to eliminate stress, there are certainly methods to handle them better and hence, reduce the effect of stress on your skin, i.e.
- Pay attention to very basic skin care, such as regular wash, emollients and sun avoidance even if you are tired out or stressed up.
- Allocate time to exercise regularly, as it is good for your skin and relaxes the rest of the body.
- Practise stress-management techniques such as breathing exercise, yoga or meditation or relaxation therapy.
- Get enough sleep, 7- 8 hours each night is ideal.
- Talk to someone, or get professional assistance from health care personnel.
- Other modalities of treatment include pharmacotherapy, e.g. use of anti- depressants with doctor’s advice and prescription.
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