Being the largest organ in our body, the skin can show signs of stress in various ways such as eczema flare-ups, atopic dermatitis and acne. As more of us are leading busy lives in contemporary society, juggling between work and domestic demands, it is not surprising that being stressed out can impact your health. Your body can react in several ways, such as appetite changes, sleepless nights, and acne breakouts.
It has been long documented on the relationship between stress and skin conditions. When the brain responds to signals indicating stress, it can influence the stress responses in the skin. The body will produce excess cortisol, known as the stress hormone, and it can have a big impact on your immune system – leading to issues like inflammation and increased sebaceous gland activity.
Here’s a closer look at how stress impacts your skin.
Inflammation plays an important role in keeping you healthy as your body needs to defend against potential harm like viruses. But when you are facing immense stress, your body can overproduce cortisol. These inflammatory cells have increased in number to help treat the “attack”, and it can end up triggering flare-ups of any skin conditions you may be predisposed to. The inflammatory response can aggravate the skin, causing more redness and bumps.
2. Trigger or worsen existing conditions
Cortisol plays a vital role in your system. Besides fueling your body’s “fight or flight” instinct, it also helps in a number of things such as regulating your blood pressure and controls your sleep/wake cycle. But when the cortisol levels get too high, it can derail important functions in your body and contribute to health problems such as heart disease, anxiety, digestion issues and trouble sleeping.
For the skin, it can exacerbate or trigger skin conditions. For instance, if you are already suffering from eczema, it can trigger more patches of dry, itchy and inflamed skin across your body. This can have various physical and mental ripple effects, from skin infections to low self-confidence and shame.
3. Oily skin
A student examination stress study done in 2003 revealed that participants faced increased acne severity associated with higher stress levels. This suggests that emotional stress can have a significant influence on acne.
Stress sends signals to the brains to prepare the body for the stressful environment by producing a specific set of hormones. When the shift in hormone levels occur, due to increased cortisol, it can cause increased activity of sebaceous glands in the skin. This leads to higher levels of oil than usual, which can make it susceptible to blockages in the pores. When the pores get congested, along with dead skin cells and dirt, it can contribute to those pesky acne breakouts.
4. Cause dry skin and fine lines
Collagen provides support to surrounding tissues to give them structural integrity. This is what gives you that smooth, firm and bouncy skin. When the skin is stressed, increased cortisol can break down collagen and lower the synthesis of hyaluronic acid. As such, this will lead to moisture loss in the skin. The skin will look dehydrated, feel dry and experience fine lines over time. As the skin’s collagen reserves wear down, it will result in weaker and less abundant connective tissue which affects the skin’s texture.
Keep stress at bay
The first thing to do is to be aware that your body is under stress and find ways to release or manage the stress. Meditation and exercise have been known to help some people feel less stressed. Different things will work for different individuals, depending on what their stress triggers are.
At the same time, you can also turn to treatments to help manage the conditions of your skin. For instance, Q Switch laser works best as an acne treatment to target acne by firing a beam of energy at a precise wavelength onto your skin. It also provides other benefits such as minimise secretion of oil glands for better oil control, reduce inflammation of affected pores and lighten acne marks. This treatment has no downtime and takes merely 15 minutes to be carried out. For a more radiant look, you can try the Skin Boosters which offer Hyaluronic Acid injections to boost deep skin hydration. This naturally-occurring substance in our body is able to hold 1,000 times its molecular weight – improving moisture levels as well as reduce inflammation, assist in collagen production and provide anti-oxidative benefits. Overall, it will result in dewy, plump and supple skin.