In today’s busy world, living completely without stress may be impossible. But heightened levels of stress, if left untreated, can wreak havoc on the body. Since skin is the body’s largest organ, it isn’t immune to the effects of stress. In fact, since many nerve endings have a connection with the skin, stress can be immediately expressed through the skin, just as it can cause gastrointestinal symptoms like a stomach ache or bloating. There are various ways that stress affects skin condition.
Dry and Flaky Skin – If you’re stressed out, there’s a good chance that you aren’t drinking ample water. Lack of hydration can cause your skin to become flaky and dry. This is because stress, particularly chronic stress, causes an increase in the hormone cortisol, which adversely affects the ability of the skin to retain water. Less moisture means less luminous skin.
Tired, Baggy Eyes – Anxiety and stress may interfere with your sleep, and lack of sleep can increase fluid in the lower eyelid region. This causes an ugly, puffy mess in the morning. If you sleep on your stomach, the bagginess might be even worse, as the excess fluid will tend to pool around your eyes.
Acne, Psoriasis or Eczema Breakouts – When you experience stress, the body releases cortisol. This stress hormone causes skin glands to produce more oil, and it causes other hormones in your body to become imbalanced. It also causes inflammation. This often results in a breakout on your face or your body, in the form of acne, eczema or psoriasis. If you’re prone to one of these annoying skin conditions, you may think you have it under control, but a stressful event can be a “trigger,” causing the condition to flare up.
Hives and Rashes – Stress can exacerbate various skin conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis, fever blisters, hives and skin rashes. Hives and rashes are caused by a bacterial imbalance in your gut, called dysbiosis. When stress becomes a problem, the bad bacteria will overtake the good bacteria, often leading to rashes or hives.
Fine Facial Lines – Do you furrow your brow or purse your lips when you’re stressed out? You may not even realize you’re doing this, and the repeated muscle tension causes deeper, permanent wrinkles in those regions over time. Also, when cortisol is released, it causes blood sugar levels to become elevated. This in turn leads to the damage of collagen and elastin, two essential protein fibers that keep the skin smooth and plump.
Flushed Face, Redness – Your breathing will frequently change when you’re stressed, leading to shorter, shallower breaths and possibly even periods of time when you hold your breath. A lack of oxygen can cause redness and flushing. An increase of blood flow causes your capillaries to expand, and stress can trigger a type of flushing called rosacea. What’s even worse is that stress weakens the immune system, possibly extending the duration of these flare-ups.
How to Protect Skin from Effects of Stress
There are preventative measures you can take to reduce the effects of stress on the body. A healthy diet, regular exercise and ample sleep will help you keep your stress level under control. However, that isn’t always enough. In addition to practicing stress reduction techniques, such as deep abdominal breathing, yoga and meditation, a natural body scrub with moisturizing ingredients can clean and invigorate while supporting and strengthening the skin during times of duress. If you’re going through a stressful time in your life, keep yourself well hydrated, both inside and out, by drinking plenty of water and regularly applying a deeply penetrating, moisturizing body scrub.