Stress isn't good for us, and it has a number of physical health consequences, including heart disease. Did you realise, however, that stress and skin health go hand in hand and stress can have an adverse effect on your skin? Your skin is a visible manifestation of what's going on in your body and mind. So, if you're stressed, it's likely that your skin will show it. Here are five surprising ways in which stress can affect your skin.
Acne is one of the most common skin problems, and It's often linked to stress. When you're stressed, your body produces cortisol and other hormones, which trigger your skin to produce sebum. Sebum is a natural oil that helps to keep your skin healthy. However, too much sebum can lead to clogged pores and acne breakouts. Stress can also disrupt the balance of good and bad bacteria on your skin, triggering acne or making it worse.
2. Dull and Dry Skin
Alternatively, you may find that the excess cortisol in your body has the opposite effect and dries your skin out. This is because it depletes the natural oils that form a protective barrier against the environment. Dry skin tends to be rough, tight, and flaky. Your skin is also more prone to inflammation when it's dry, so you may find it feels irritated and itchy. As well as being dry, stressed skin is often dull. Your skin's ability to regenerate is impaired when you're under stress. Dead skin cells can build up, leaving your complexion looking sallow and lifeless.
Stress can also cause or aggravate skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, and rosacea. These conditions are linked to genetic and environmental factors, but stress can trigger flare-ups. Cortisol reduces the skin's ability to heal itself, so you may find that any existing skin conditions worsen when you're stressed. In other words, if you have a pre-existing skin condition, stress can make it worse. And if you don't already have a skin condition, you may be more likely to develop one when you're stressed. Additionally, stressful situations can cause flushed skin, hives, and other temporary rashes. These stress rashes can be quite embarrassing, not to mention itchy and uncomfortable. If you've ever suffered from a stress rash on your face during a job interview or important meeting, you know how frustrating it can be.
4. Wrinkles and Signs of Ageing
When it comes to stress and skin health, one of the main side effects is ageing. The hormones that your body produces when it's under stress can break down collagen and elastin. This leads to wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging, causing your skin to age prematurely. In addition, as the skin's protective layer breaks down, it becomes more susceptible to damage from the sun, pollution, and other environmental factors. This can further accelerate the ageing process.
5. Dark Circles Under the Eyes
Cortisol also causes blood vessels to constrict, which can result in dark circles under the eyes. The reduced blood flow means less oxygen and nutrients are delivered to this area's skin cells. Lack of sleep is another common side effect of stress. This can also contribute to dark circles under the eyes, as well as causing eye bags and puffiness.
See ways to deal with dark circles here
How To Soothe Stressed Skin
If you're concerned about stress and skin health or if you're noticing that your skin isn't looking its best, it could be a sign that you need to take some time out to relax. Try taking a yoga class, going for a walk in nature, or simply taking some time each day to sit quietly and clear your mind. Meditation and mindfulness can also help to reduce stress levels.
If you find it difficult to relax, there are some great apps that can guide you through mindfulness exercises. When it comes to skincare for stressed skin, it's essential to choose gentle skincare products made from nourishing ingredients to replenish the skin's natural oils and rebuild its protective barrier. Finally, remember to take care of yourself from the inside out. Be sure to get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, and drink plenty of water, as these are essential for maintaining healthy skin.