Skin Mood - Stress
Soon’s introducing Skin Moods, a blog series examining how our moods affect our skin and skin affects our moods. (It’s a chicken or the egg cycle.) We wanted to address how various inner conditions manifest in our skin and ways you may help alleviate it. Today we’re looking at how stress affects our skin.
Stress doesn’t only trigger your emotions but your skin is triggered by stress. Perceived stress and elevated cortisol are contributing factors to conditions you may already have and aggravate or flare up your skin. There are more immediate conditions such as: itching, contact dermatitis, psoriasis, acne, eczema, and atopic dermatitis. Over time your skin may become increasingly dry, oily, wrinkled, and acne prone. Stress is even associated with delayed healing in chronic wounds.
Symptoms and stress can form a vicious cycle. While acute stress may cause your body to initiate helpful immune responses, chronic stress suppresses immunity, increases chances of infections, and provoke allergic reactions and inflammatory diseases. The stress from your habits or lifestyle further intensify the damage and signs of aging.
Skin is the primary sense organ for external stressors including: heat, cold, pain, and tension. One of skin’s basic functions is to protect our other major organs and repair wounds caused by injury. Skin reacts to stress by activating the immune systems, the brain responds to these signals, which then influences the stress response in our skin. Not only does skin target key stress mediators, they induce various immune and inflammation responses.
Stress impacts symptoms in various ways such as impairing skin’s barrier function. If there are problems in the skin barrier the skin is more sensitive to allergens, water loss, itching. Chronic stress has been associated with telomere shortening. Telomeres are DNA repeats at the end of chromosomes and they shorten with each cell division, which over time leads to premature cell aging.
Luckily skin damage due to stress can be helped by maintaining a routine of self-care. Often when we are in the throes of stress we aren’t spending much time taking care of ourselves in even our usual routines. The usual things like exercise, meditation, sleep, eating healthy foods, and drinking water tend to get thrown aside. Exercise releases endorphins which ward off cortisol. Mediation is proven to mitigate the psychological impact of stress. Sleep helps our body heal and repair. Food nourishes and provides necessary nutrients. Water hydrates and solves almost everything. Treating skin right at the source also helps.
Taking time to care for your skin at the surface aids a stressed out skin barrier. Products that contain skin protective and anti-inflammatory ingredients and antioxidants give your skin that extra protection it loses with stress. Putting on a restorative skin mask, meditating, and having a drink of water might not solve all your problems but it can provide a respite and reminder that, at least you’re trying your best.