What actually happens to your skin when you're stressed

a girl applying acne spot treatment

Skin

Stress is a common human condition that we all experience at some point in our life. It is, however, often wrongly associated with being solely a mental state. The truth is that stress physically manifests on your entire body, particularly influencing the health of your hair, skin, and nails. Chronic stress can lead to depression, a suppressed immune system and the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

Here we elucidate the impact of stress on the health and appearance of your skin. Psychological conditions like stress and anxiety cause your body to initiate a response that leads to developing skin issues while exacerbating the existing ones.

Behind the scenes 

When you are stressed, your body reacts by producing hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline prepares the body for a flight and fight response, causing elevated heart rate and metabolic activity while cortisol causes the immune system to suppress, stimulating various responses that directly affect the skin, making it more sensitive, reactive, and less receptive to repair and healing.

Clogged Pores

The stress hormone, Cortisol, stimulates the sebaceous glands under your skin to release excess oil/sebum. This clogs the pores on the surface of the skin, resulting in acne and breakouts.

Dry and flaky hands

Dry Skin

Stress is one of the major factors that are directly responsible for dry skin. It influences the stratum corneum - the outer layer of your skin that functions to retain moisture and keep the skin cells hydrated. It also acts as a barrier that protects the skin underneath. However, stress causes hinderance in the proper functioning of this barrier, leading to excessive dryness and skin dullness.

A woman looking at her rashed face in the mirror

Redness and Rashes

As mentioned before, stress can potentially weaken your immune system which affects the balance of bacteria in your gut and on your skin. In the gut, it can lead to indigestion and gastric issues, whereas, on the skin, this results in an inflammatory response that manifests as rashes, increased redness, flareups, eczema, and psoriasis.

a man applying under-eye cream looking in the mirror

Wrinkles

Yes! One of the reasons behind your premature ageing is stress!
Stress affects the outer layer of your skin, causing variations in the lipids and proteins that make up this layer. Along with excessive dryness, these changes contribute to the loss of skin elasticity, which, in turn lead to wrinkle formation.

practicing aromatherapy

How To Cope With Stress and Skin Issues?

It is impossible to avoid stress completely, but you can find ways to manage it better. Here are a few tips to apply to your everyday life so you can learn how to cope with stresses of everyday life:

  1. Take out time from your busy schedule and do something that makes you feel relaxed. This may include taking a walk down your street or doing a fun activity.
  2. Maintain a healthy lifestyle; exercise, meditate and take plenty of sleep, you will feel the difference!
  3. Do not compromise on your skincare routine, take care of your health and stay well hydrated.
  4. Talk to someone or seek help from a professional therapist to help manage your stress.  
How To Cope With Stress and Skin Issues