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The Effects of Stress on Your Skin and What You Can Do

Our bodies often act as a visual representation of our emotions. For example, when you’re embarrassed, your skin turns red. Likewise, when you’re stressed, your skin is affected.

Researchers believe that there is a link between your brain and your skin because both develop from the same cells in utero. So, being stressed triggers a reaction in your skin cells. For most people, this reaction takes the form of acne or hives breakout.

Your skin may also suffer because of how you act when you’re stressed. For instance, when people feel stressed they often don’t get enough sleep, drink enough water or maintain their skin care routine. As a result, your skin’s appearance is affected.

The Mind/Body Connection of Stress and Your Skin

Stress causes your body to produce the hormone cortisol. Cortisol causes the glands under your skin to produce excess oil. This oil becomes mixed in with dirt, dead skin cells and the hair follicles on your skin, producing skin eruptions, a.k.a. pimples.

You could also develop hives as a result of stress. When your mind is stressed, your body reacts by triggering an immune system response. Essentially, your body reacts to stress as it would an illness or infection. However, because stress is a mental ailment and not a physical one, there’s nothing for your immune system to fight. Regardless, your immune system responds by sending out something called histamine. Histamine produces an inflammatory response in your skin cells which manifests on your skin as red, itchy bumps, which we identify as hives.

Stress can also depress your immune system. This means your body is unable to fight off common skin irritants like temperature, laundry detergent, soap, lotion, etc. This is another reason stressed people break out into rashes, patches of redness, hives and acne.

Treating the Effects of Stress on Your Skin

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The first step to treating the effects of stress on your skin is to de-stress.

This can be difficult, depending on what’s causing your stress. Nonetheless, it’s important to try as this will make you and your skin feel better.

Some good ways to relax are to,

  •      Take a walk;
  •      Do something you enjoy, even if it’s only for ten minutes;
  •      Exercise. Exercise produces endorphins which help you to feel better mentally;
  •      Speak to a friend or a professional about what’s stressing you;
  •      Perform stress management techniques such as deep breathing, meditation and visualization;
  •      Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep.

 

The next step is to treat your skin.

If you’re suffering from an acne breakout you need a cleanser and topical acne treatment that contains salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is effective in unclogging pores. It also helps prevent scarring.  However, not all salicylic acid is created equal. New advances in skincare have resulted in more effective breakout management by combining time-released technology with salicylic acid. The benefit of time-released, is that instead of one high-dose application of salicylic acid all at once, which can leave your skin feeling dry and actually cause your skin to over compensate by producing more oil; time-releasing the ingredient gives you little bursts of it throughout the day to better control oil and keep your skin feeling more balanced.  

You’ll also want a product that contains anti-inflammatory ingredients, like SkinAgain’s Clear lotion, which uses lilac stem cells—a plant-based anti-inflammatory agent, as well as time-released salicylic acid.

 

Hives Are a Different Story

The treatment for hives is antihistamines. These are taken orally and can be bought over the counter. Experts also suggest avoiding tight fitting clothing to prevent your skin from being further irritated.

What Stress Often Causes Us to Forget

In addition to having a physical impact on your skin, stress can also cause you to forget important elements of self-care that can negatively affect your skin.

Not drinking enough water leads to dry skin. Not getting enough sleep leads to puffy eyes. Not washing and moisturizing your face leads to dirt-filled pores which cause pimples.

It’s an unfortunate cause-and-effect of being stress that we neglect to care for ourselves. However, returning to routines of self-care have been proven to reduce your stress levels.

For instance, washing your face is a great way to relax. While massaging the cleanser into your pores and cleaning your face, you’re also massaging the muscles in your face. This produces a relaxing sensation that may help reduce your feelings of stress.

Drinking water can also reduce feelings of stress. Studies have shown that being even half a liter dehydrated causes your cortisol levels to rise. As we know, cortisol is a leading cause of oily skin. It’s also a hormone that plays a role in managing your stress levels. So, by drinking water you’re keeping your cortisol levels down, reducing your stress and hydrating your skin.

Getting A Good Night’s ZZZZ’s

Lastly, getting a good night’s sleep is crucial. As you sleep, your heart rate and blood pressure slow down. Your body is then able to replenish the energy it expended during the day and your immune system gets a helpful dose of hormones to help fight off infections. All this leads to you waking up the next morning with lower blood pressure and a stronger immune system.

A good night’s sleep also improves the look of your skin. As you sleep, your body replenishes its store of collagen cells, which is what keeps your skin from getting saggy. It also boosts blood flow to your skin cells, giving your skin a healthy glow and reducing the appearance of “puffiness” around your eyes.

How Does Stress Cause Acne? The Skin Science! | Cassandra Bankson

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