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Skin Moods: Anxiety

Skin Moods: Anxiety

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 anxiety affects our skin.


When experiencing anxiety or panic the bodies response is often feeling “hot”. Your skin may feel inexplicably any number of ways including: skin burning like a sunburn, numb, tingley, prickly, stinging. The way each individual experiences a reaction to anxiety is different, there are many ways to describe them. Anxiety skin symptoms may even be magnified by shifting your focus to them. (Anxiety causes a skin reaction, you notice the skin reaction and feel anxious about skin, and your skin reaction continues.)


There are many reasons your anxiety causes skin related symptoms. Anxiety activates an emergency response in your body and hormones alert the body’s senses to be on high alert for emergency readiness. You body responds with a heightened sense of touch by the nerve endings in the skin being more sensitive and reactive. An excellent protective but involuntary move.

Anxiety induced skin symptoms can be unwelcome but they aren’t harmful. The symptoms are merely indicators that you have anxiety and need to calm yourself down by relieving what is causing the emergency response. In fact, these symptoms may be helpful in pinpointing what causes you to react anxiously. When you recover from anxiety, skin symptoms subside.

One component in the connection between anxiety and health is the vagus nerve. Mental health can have a significant impact on the vagus nerve and it’s important for responding to emotional and psychological symptoms of anxiety. The vagus nerve helps connect your emotions and senses. You can stimulate your vagus nerve to relieve anxious nervous system states.


One helpful solution for stimulating the vagus nerve is the diving reflex. You may recognize this from old movies as the suggestion to “splash some cold water on your face”. Splashing cold water on your face, holding ice cubes with a short hold of your breath, placing a refrigerated cold compress (or mask) on from your lips to scalp are useful methods. The diving reflex slows your heart rate, increases blood flow to your brain, and aids in relaxing your body. In order to move the recovery process along you can practice relaxed breathing, increase rest, and (try to) relax and not worry about your anxiety symptoms.