Lesser-Known Effects of Stress on the Skin

  • by Ansaligy Social

The Lesser-Known Effects of Stress on the Skin and How to Alleviate these Effects

2020 was quite an overwhelming year for everyone around the world. It brought a lot of stress, physically, emotionally, and mentally. On the other hand, the hectic daily life does not spare us a chance to stay away from stress. As a result, stress becomes a part of adult life. 

Besides affecting your mental health, prolonged stress impacts your physical health, too, including your skin. As evidence, a 2017 study found that stress and anxiety accounted for acne for 74% of 144 females who participated. Prolonged stress leaves your skin dreadful with a disturbed skin barrier, low hydration levels, increased skin sensitivity, acne, or even worse, eczema or psoriasis.

How Stress can Induce Skin Irritability

Cortisol, a primary stress hormone, is produced in excess by the body during stress intervals. An overproduction of cortisol from the adrenal glands leads to an overproduction of sebum in the sebaceous glands. This overproduction triggers clogged pores, acne, breakouts, and susceptible skin. Cortisol also weakens the skin’s defensive system. It means it creates an imbalance between the free radicals present in the body and the body’s antioxidant level to fight those free radicals. This, in turn, leads to wrinkles, fine lines, and dull and dry skin. An overproduction of cortisol can also cause skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, or rosacea due to increased inflammation in the body. 

Effects of Stress on the Skin

If you thought stress only affects your psychological balance, here’s a fact, stress first gives rise to intervals of anxiety. Then, it attacks your mental balance, emotional balance, and physical body, including your skin, hair, and nails. Studies also show that stress is also one of the causes of psoriasis and worsens its symptoms during periods of stress. Let us find out the effects stress has on your skin.

  • Acne. The first signal of stress on the skin comes in the form of acne or breakouts. If you get acne when going through a disturbing period, consider stress as the root of all evil. Stress acne is more common in people who have oily or acne-prone skin. Overproduction of cortisol during stress intervals informs the sebaceous glands to secrete more sebum. The result of this excess sebum secretion is clogged pores leading to acne, breakouts, pimples, blackheads, and other forms of acne. 
  • Dry and Dehydrated Skin. Lipids and keratin protein are found in the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of the skin. Lipids are natural fats that help maintain the strength of the skin’s protective barrier, thereby protecting the skin from harmful environmental aggressors. The stratum corneum also contains a protein called keratin, responsible for preventing the loss of water and hydration from the skin. If the stratum corneum encounters any problem, the skin’s protective barrier gets compromised, which could lead to severe long-term effects. The first effect seen on the skin is dry and dehydrated skin because of the skin’s inability to prevent moisture loss. Research and study show stress negatively affects the stratum corneum, weakening the function of the protective barrier. This leads to dry and dehydrated skin.
  • Puffiness Under the Eyes. You would have read or heard dermatologists say, “Adequate and timely sleep is essential for good skin.” Undoubtedly, adequate and timely sleep is quite essential for our body and skin to remain healthy. But, stress is a significant factor you might experience insomnia or sleep deprivation, which leads to eye bags or puffiness under the eyes. While age and loss of skin elasticity are some of the other reasons you may have puffiness under the eyes, sleep deprivation is also a major one. 
  • Aggravates Rosacea. Rosacea is characterized by the redness of the face with visible blood vessels and tiny pus-filled bumps. Periods of stress are often met by anxiety, which could make your heart pump faster, leading to pumped-up blood vessels and dilated capillaries. This induces facial flushing and a flare-up in rosacea. Cortisol hormone is also pro-inflammatory, meaning it can also cause inflammation leading to inflamed bumps and redness.  
  • Redness and Rashes. As per studies, anxiety and itching are interrelated. A trigger of anxiety can give rise to an itching sensation. On the other hand, cortisol, the stress hormone released during stress or anxiety, triggers the release of certain chemicals in the body. These chemicals create itching and sensitivity and leave you scratching or picking your skin, which gives rise to rashes and redness.
  • Premature Aging. Because of stress, the protective barrier gets compromised, leading to a loss of hydration and moisture levels from the skin, leaving it dry and dehydrated. Dry and dehydrated skin is always at the risk of losing collagen and elasticity, inducing the start of premature skin aging. This results in wrinkles, fine lines, and saggy and dull skin.  

Besides the effects mentioned above, stress can also worsen eczema, atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis because of inflamed skin. Apart from skin, stress also affects the growth and quality of your hair and nails. High blood pressure, headache, depression, fatigue are also some of the issues that come along with stress.

Can you Mitigate the Side-Effects of Stress on Skin? 

Sometimes, stress is unavoidable and becomes a part of life. What matters is how you handle it. And yes, there’s a fair chance you can mitigate its effects on the skin. Some TLC, and you will be able to get the healthy skin again back in no time. But in any case, it is best to address the root of all evil, that is, manage your stress levels by doing things that calm and soothe your mind. Try yoga, meditation, or any activity that helps you soothe and calm yourself, like gardening or cooking. Sometimes just taking a break from things and indulging in a session to the salon or a trekking trip can do wonders to bring you a feeling of happiness. Do whatever keeps you happy and stress-free. 

How to Mitigate the Effects of Stress on Skin?

Giving your skin some TLC can help alleviate the effects of stress. 

  • Eat a Well Nutritious Diet. Eating a well-balanced and healthy diet that includes wholesome nutrition is a step in the right direction. Include a diet comprising of antioxidants like vitamin C, E, and A, and eat complex carbs like oatmeal that help boost the level of serotonin, a brain calming chemical. 
  • Get Adequate Sleep. A good night’s sleep calms your mind and energizes your body. Sleep reduces your stress, lightens and regulates your mood, and works as a stress-buster. Make sure you always sleep and wake up on time, and get adequate sleep every day. 
  • Workout. Exercise helps release toxins through sweating and is a great way to stay away from stress with the added benefit of staying in good shape. 
  • Use Sun Protection. Harmful UV rays damage your skin’s protective barrier making it dry and dehydrated. Using a good SPF will keep it protected from UV rays. 
  • Follow a Daily Skincare Routine. Following a daily skincare routine of cleansing, toning, and moisturizing with spot treatments, and serums will keep your skin protected, moisturized, and hydrated. 
  • Exfoliate. Exfoliating the skin will help get rid of dead skin cells keeping your skin clear of clogged pores and acne. Exfoliate once, twice, or thrice a week, depending on your skin’s ability to withstand exfoliation. 
  • Use Hydrating Face Masks. Face masks instantly revive dry and dehydrated skin. They help restore the balance of the skin and protect the skin barrier. Some face masks also have exfoliation properties to help get rid of dead skin cells. 
  • Use Under-Eye Patches to Revive Puffiness. Like face masks, under-eye patches help instantly revive puffiness and eye bags. Over time, they help diminish fine lines, crow’s feet, and saggy skin around the eyes. 

Use skincare products rich in soothing ingredients like aloe vera, chamomile, oatmeal, rosemary extracts, and niacinamide to mitigate the effects of stress on the skin. 

Wrapping Up 

While it is crucial to keep stress at bay, it becomes equally unavoidable at some point in your life. Learning to manage it well or keeping it under control can bring a lot of positive effects to your skin in a long time.


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