Does Stress Cause Skin Problems?
Life is stressful. No matter what your daily routine looks like, where you live, or what your background is, it's likely that you sometimes get overwhelmed with stress.
The natural reaction to high levels of stress is the fight or flight response. It sends your cortisol levels - a hormone that aids in the body's reaction to stress - through the roof. And what does that do?
It causes a variety of skin problems.
Well, it does a lot of things. High stress levels have been blamed for a host of health problems - from erectile dysfunction to high blood pressure. There is also evidence that high stress levels can trigger several negative skin reactions.
How can stress affect your skin? What can you do to prevent these issues? And how do you know if a skin condition is being caused by stress or something else?
What Is Stress?
According to the World Health Organization, stress is "a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation." Stress can be acute or chronic, and affects you differently depending on its level and its duration.
No two people deal with a stressful situation in exactly the same way. For one person, stress might be totally manageable while for another it is debilitating.
In some cases, stress can even be beneficial. For example, you may feel pressure to perform at work, to provide for your family, or to care for your home. As long as you cope effectively with this kind of stress, it can help you achieve your goals and stay safe and healthy.
Why Does Stress Affect Your Skin?
Your skin and your brain share a strong link. So stress doesn't only affect your thinking - it also has an impact on your skin.
Your body's stress reaction includes the increased release of certain hormones like cortisol. Unfortunately, these hormones increase inflammation, break down collagen and elastin, and slow the wound healing process.
Hair growth and hair strength are also negatively impacted by stress hormones. While it is usually short term and resolves after the source of your stress subsidies, you may experience hair thinning and hair loss while under acute stress.
Stress rash is one of the most common skin reactions to severe stress. It's usually characterized by the formation of itchy hives or red, inflamed bumps that can appear anywhere on the body.
In one cross-sectional study published in 2018, stress rash was found to be one of the most common skin complaints amongst medical students when evaluated for psychological stress and skin symptoms.
What Causes Stress Rash?
Stress rash is caused when elevated levels of cortisol set off your body's histamine reaction. A stress rash looks similar to an allergic reaction and may even be confused for one.
How to Treat Stress Rash
Treat stress rash by using an over the counter anti-histamine. That will combat the hives and other rash symptoms. And of course, do what you can to reduce the stressful situation that set off your body's reaction in the first place.
If you have stress rash on face or stress bumps on face, be cautious when applying any creams - especially if you have sensitive skin. Some products with harsh ingredients can worsen your inflammation, so make sure you've chosen something gentle that you know works for your skin. Talk with your doctor if you're not sure what kind of product or cream to use.
Acne is one of the most frequent skin reactions to high stress levels. That's no surprise; cortisol boosts oil production in your skin. More oil allows for dirt and bacteria to get more easily trapped in your pores - and the unfortunate result is stress acne.
How to Get Rid of Stress Acne
One of the best ways to get rid of stress acne is by using an acne spot treatment. Our Acne Controlling Spot Treatment is made with 2% salicylic acid, witch hazel, and willow bark extract. Apply it directly to your blemishes and allow it to dry completely.
Of course, keep up with your regular skincare routine at all times - regardless of whether or not you're experiencing stress acne. That includes using face wash and face moisturizer twice daily - each morning and evening.
If you struggle with acne on a regular basis, make sure you're also exfoliating each week. Use our Renewing Face Scrub to remove oily buildup from your pores and reduce the chance that bacteria can grow, fester, and create blemishes. For the best results, exfoliate your skin 2-3 times each week.
Stress Induced Eczema
Eczema is a common skin condition that weakens your skin's natural barrier. This is what helps keep your skin moisturized. So if you suffer from eczema, your skin tends to get bumpy, itchy, and dry.
Eczema is not contagious. It can affect people of any age and background. It's especially common in infants, but about half of people who have eczema as a baby will grow out of it. Even so, over 31 million Americans are estimated to be affected by eczema.
Does Stress Cause Eczema Flare Ups?
Each person with eczema has different triggers that set it off. But for many guys with this condition, stress is a common cause of flare ups.
When your stress levels are elevated, you produce more cortisol. This suppresses your body's normal immune response, ratchets up inflammation, and worsens many common eczema symptoms. Sadly, stress induced eczema can have a repeating cycle wherein you get stressed, experience eczema symptoms, which then stress you out more, and lead to further symptoms.
Stress Related Eczema on Hands
One particularly uncomfortable form of stress eczema is stress related eczema on hands - also called dyshidrotic eczema. Its symptoms are small, itchy blisters on the hands and feet. If you suffer from this or other forms of stress induced eczema, talk with your doctor about the best ways to treat it.
Rosacea and Stress
Rosacea is a common skin condition that is sometimes mistaken for acne. It's characterized by redness, bumps, and visible blood vessels in the face. There is no cure, but it can be managed effectively.
In a recent survey of 544 rosacea patients, stress was identified as one of the most common and frequent causes of rosacea flare ups. In fact, 62% of the people interviewed reported that they have rosacea flare up caused by stress at least once each month.
Rosacea can appear anywhere on the body, and is commonly seen on the face and chest. Stress rosacea on chest can be incredibly uncomfortable - so you need to have effective ways to treat and prevent it.
Reduce Stress to Reduce Rosacea Flare Ups
Since stress is closely linked to rosacea flare ups, limiting and managing it are essential. Take note of which stressful situations tend to set off your rosacea or situations that are currently affecting you that may be the source of your flare ups. Some of the most common reported causes include:
- Family problems
- Economic worries
- Work issues
- Health concerns
- Relationship problems
- Social events
While you may not be able to eliminate the source of your stress, identifying it is helpful. That allows you to plan how to limit your stress levels. If your rosacea is out of control due to chronic stress, speak with your doctor to find a treatment plan that works best for you.
Does Stress Cause Wrinkles?
Yes, being stressed out can cause wrinkles and speed up the aging process. It's not just in your head - stress is aging you.
This is because cortisol (the hormone most associated with the stress reaction) breaks down collagen and elastin in your skin (the proteins that keep your skin firm and smooth). You naturally produce less collagen as you get older, starting in your mid to late 20's. So any additional loss caused by stress is only going to make you look older.
Collagen and elastin keep your skin firm and elastic. As the levels of these proteins go down, fine lines appear and slowly become deeper and more pronounced.
What Are Stress Lines?
Stress lines are stress marks on face caused by frequently pulling your skin into an expression related to stress. If you spend lots of time furrowing your brow, scowling, frowning, and otherwise reacting negatively to stress, you can expect to see wrinkles develop in those areas.
How to Treat and Prevent Stress Lines
Besides limiting stress and staying relaxed, the best way to treat and prevent stress lines is with an anti-aging skincare routine. The right ingredients will help boost your collagen levels and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Since stress lines often form across the forehead and around the eyebrows, be sure to cover this area when applying your anti-aging products.
Use our Reviving Day Serum each morning after washing your face to boost collagen production, reduce wrinkles, and smooth your skin. It's made with protein peptides - which are short chains of amino acids that directly contribute to increased collagen levels.
After applying your morning serum, use our Resurfacing Anti-Aging Cream to brighten your skin, smooth away wrinkles, and balance skin tone. Its standout ingredients are vitamin C, borage oil, and MSM (methylsulfonylmethane).
Fine lines around and below the eyes are common signs of stress - as are dark circles caused by not enough sleep. You can deal with these issues by using our Restoring Eye Cream. Its combination of peptides, hyaluronic acid, and caffeine brighten the sensitive skin below your eyes and help slow the development of wrinkles and crow's feet.
Reduce Stress, Improve Your Skin
Reducing your everyday stress levels will bring you benefits galore. Combine a low-stress lifestyle with your skincare routine for a healthy complexion. To stay calm when the going gets tough, try these tips:
A little deep breathing goes a long way towards stress relief. Sit back, relax, and take a deep breath in through your nose. Hold for a few seconds, then blow out all the air from your mouth. Hold for several seconds and repeat.
Get Plenty of Rest
Burning the midnight oil will stress you out, make you less productive, and get your skin in rough shape. Hit the sack early enough for 6-8 hours of sleep - the more stressful life has been, the more sleep you need.
You don’t have to become a total gym rat to see benefits here. Even walking or running for 30 minutes once a week can help. Three 30 minute fitness sessions per week will significantly reduce your stress and help clear up your skin.
Constantly cramming your face with low-nutrition fast food is a recipe for all kinds of disaster. If you’re crunched for time and stressed to boot, it can be hard to slow down and make smart meal choices. Avoid fast food by bringing fresh fruits and vegetables to work. When you’re tempted to snack on junk, you’ll have a healthier option at hand. And remember, you are what you eat. A good diet complements your skincare routine to make your face look its best.
Don't Let Stress Ruin Your Skin
Stress is a part of your life, whether you like it or not. And it can take a severe toll on your skin if you let it.
But by better understanding how stress affects your skin and the conditions it can worsen, you're much more capable of controlling it. That way you can be proud of your skin and face stress with confidence.