Home > Healthy Skin Guide > Effects of Stress on Skin

Effects of Stress on Skin

By: Sarah Knowles BA, MA - Updated: 5 Jan 2011 | comments*Discuss
Stress Skin Immune System Rosacea Skin

Stress plays a big role in almost everyone’s lives, but did you know that it can even affect the quality of your skin? As the skin is the largest organ in the body, it’s not surprising that the effects of stress should show up on our skin – or is it?

For people with specific skin conditions, stress plays a big role in their lives. The presence of stress can either trigger or aggravate chronic conditions such as eczema, hives, rosacea, acne, psoriasis dandruff or herpes (fever blisters), which is a virus that shows up on the skin.

But even those of us without any type of skin condition can feel the effects of everyday stress, whether we are experiencing tension at work, get riled up every morning as we negotiate the rush hour traffic, or experience family and relationship problems.

How Stress Affects the Skin

Ongoing stress adversely affects all of us, which is why so many of us try methods to keep stress at bay, such as regular exercise, yoga and meditation.

Constant stress and tension can make a huge impact on your immune system. When the immune system is weakened, our bodies – and our skin – are more susceptible to infection.

Stress also contributes to an influx of free radicals in the body, which leads to premature ageing. And extra stress can also contribute to blushing and flushing in some people, and make rosacea more prominent.

A lack of sleep, which is also often the direct result of stress can make people look older, with puffy eyes and eye bags. A recent study said people who did not get enough sleep were found to be “less attractive” than those who did.

Advent of Psychodermatology

The effects of stress and skin are so well documented that a relatively new field of medicine has been predicated on it. Psychodermatology studies the impact of our emotions on the skin, seeing how the mind and the skin are linked.

It believes that emotions are played out neurologically, due to the many nerve endings present in the body, especially in the skin. For example, if you are stressed your body might release excess cortisol, which can result in acne.

Similarly, many autoimmune disorders can be triggered by stress, such as alopecia, or hair loss, which can happen quite suddenly and be emotionally devastating.And if your skin condition affects your appearance, the cycle can even worsen, as you will be dealing with even more stressful issues as your self-esteem takes a beating.

How to Help Yourself

Doctors are now advising people with conditions that are exaggerated or exacerbated by stress to do what is called “habit reversal training.”

For example, if eczema is made worse by scratching at it, sufferers need to be aware of where their hands are and “train” them to so something else.Doctors also recommend relaxation and other feel-good techniques to reduce stress, including:

  • Regular exercise to release those feel-good hormones.
  • Healthy eating.
  • Doing something you love on a regular basis.
  • Taking time to practice breathing deeply as often as possible.
  • Visualisation to think about good, happy thoughts.
  • Yoga, meditation, pilates or another form of stress relief to concentrate one’s mind and body.
Stress affects all of us virtually every day, but those who learn to handle it well reap the results. Learning how to relax and calm down will not only make us feel better, but make us look better as well.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • AmYBN
    Re: About Molluscum Contagiosum
    @woopwoop034 - it sounds like it could be chicken pox. Your mum would have to take you to the docs to find out. I'm sure your mum…
    21 June 2018
  • woopwoop034
    Re: About Molluscum Contagiosum
    My younger sister just got rid of her chicken pox and she is 3 years old. I am however 12 and my mum isn't sure if I've had chicken…
    20 June 2018
  • Andy
    Re: Do Washing Detergents Affect Eczema?
    We use Caring Panda's Washing Powder only. Now they seem to sell them only in larger packages of 5kg. They used to…
    17 June 2018
  • gli
    Re: Dealing With Hard Skin
    I have hard skin on my body and is very very dry.I have tried everything including the moisturizers tissue oil bit no change. I am out of…
    20 May 2018
  • Bea
    Re: Recognising and Treating Boils
    I recently had a boil on my inner thigh near my groin. It was obviously occurred due to an ingrown hair. The only thing that…
    17 May 2018
  • Savvy
    Re: Avoiding Chicken Pox Scars
    If no muslin for oat bath, use an old pair of tights or even socks. Run in bath water and bathe.
    16 May 2018
  • Jnr
    Re: Avoiding Chicken Pox Scars
    NEVER LET WATER TOUCH CHICKEN POX!! No baths, no showers, no water at all! I don’t know why the western world doesn’t know the basics…
    11 May 2018
  • Sannyb
    Re: Avoiding Chicken Pox Scars
    Out oats into a sock and then rubbed over skin ??
    9 May 2018
  • Alista
    Re: Avoiding Chicken Pox Scars
    Hi...I have chickenpox now and it itches a lot. I've applied calamine lotion but the itches still persist. I don't have a muslin bag…
    27 April 2018
  • Victor Moodley
    Re: All About Lichen Planus
    I am 73 and diabetic.I was diagonized with lichen planus. It appeared on on forearms, neck and lower back. I have been given antibiotics…
    10 April 2018
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the SkinHelp website. Please read our Disclaimer.