How does stress affect the skin?

Stress and lack of self-confidence are some of the distressing consequences of severe skin problems. Stress causes a severe chemical response in your body which makes skin more reactive and sensitive. It can also make it even tougher for skin problems to heal.

Skin problems often go hand in a hand with stigma and shame, mainly because these are problems which are instantly visible. Nowadays, many people have severe acne which causes a great deal of distress.

The everyday breakouts of spots and the stigma attached to acne had a bad impact on people’s self-worth, often making them feel anxious and powerless.

A complex link

There is a complex relationship between skin health and mental well-being. Healthcare professionals have now recognized that acne and other skin problems can cause stress and mental health problems. Though this is a strong link, and unraveling cause and effect is no easy act.

According to the researchers, the link between stress and skin pros is problematic to study in humans. It has been proposed that some skin problems are worsened by stress. However, the other way around has also been well-known.

If patients have serious dermatological conditions, they will become more stressed. And the stress of feeling bad makes people so worried all the time which ultimately increases the severity of acne. But the most significant improvements will come from patients realizing their worth as individuals, with or without any kind of skin problem.

What does the research show?

Research has mostly focused on stress because of dermatological problems, instead of as a cause. Particularly, researchers have investigated some of the most common dermatological problems like eczema, acne, alopecia, or psoriasis.

It’s important, though, that these patients have been more prepared than others to come forward in terms of connecting. There are some ‘gaps’ in research of other skin problems which may expose similar stressful and emotional experiences.

But over the years, studies examining the role of stress in causing skin problems have also emerged. In the 1970s, it was revealed that patients with acne stated a worsening of the state after going through any worrying event.

Moreover, small questionnaire-based researches have also confirmed this, presenting that acne can be aggravated during stressful times, like exam periods. The same has been proposed with other disorders like eczema or, psoriasis.

But many of these studies still suffer from limitations, comprising small sample sizes, and the problem of conducting trials in the lab to assess the effect of stress in real life.

The biological mechanisms connecting stress and skin problems also have yet to be openly explained. But researchers have established that chronic stress can affect the immune system and the permeability of the skin. Thus, making it less efficient at keeping damaging substances out.

Furthermore, there is proof that stress is linked with the production of some hormones, or with the secretion of substances which promote inflammation in the body.

According to the researchers, stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol are produced by people during high levels of anxiety. These hormones tell glands in your skin to make more oil. Oily skin is more susceptible to acne and other skin problems.

Areeba Hussain

Areeba is an independent medical and healthcare writer. For the last three years, she is writing for Tophealthjournal. Her prime areas of interest are diseases, medicine, treatments, and alternative therapies. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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