At the same time, summer plans, rush at work, and family obligations put us under increasing amounts of stress.
If people aren’t careful, they’ll be left with dozens of summer photos marred by acne breakouts, hives, and thin hair. The cause? Stress. As recently as 2014, research published by the American Academy of Dermatology suggested that our nerves and our stress levels have an effect on the way our skin looks.
Here are 5 ways stress affects your skin’s appearance.
When you get stressed, your body produces a chemical called cortisol. Cortisol triggers the production of “sebum,” or oil. A little oil is good for your skin—but excess oil causes dead skin cells to get trapped in your pores, resulting in an acne breakout.
Every movie scene where a distressed heroine loses her hair was based in fact. See, stress causes hair to enter “telogen effluvium,” or the condition that leads to shedding. Extraordinary stress levels can cause extensive hair loss months after a stressful event. Some of the most common high-stress events include giving birth, surgery, or sudden weight loss.
The good news is that the loss isn’t permanent—the hair cycle will return to normal if you recover from stress in a healthy, normal process.
Stress isn’t just an emotion—it’s a physical response that has evolved from the human need to escape danger. Few of us ever experience genuine threats to our survival, but our brain doesn’t know that, which is why stress triggers an autoimmune response in your body.
In other words, stress can cause a similar effect as an allergic reaction.
Unfortunately, stress cannot be fixed with histamine, so your body develops a temporary skin condition instead.
Some researchers are back-and-forth on this one, but there is evidence that stress could damage your skin’s ability to heal itself. What keeps your skin young and elastic is collagen (but you know that already). However, did you know that stress-induced cortisol degrades collagen? Less collagen means your skin loses elasticity and fullness, leading to a gaunt and saggy appearance over time.
Researchers do not fully understand the connection between stress and skin conditions like rosacea or eczema. However, they do know that these conditions are affected by the body’s autoimmune response—and we’ve already told you how stress can trigger an autoimmune response.
“So great—every time I’m stressed I look worse?”
Well, not every time…but the cumulative effect of a stress-filled life will take its toll. In addition to treatment from a board-certified dermatologist, the best way to reduce the impact of stress is to reduce the amount of stress in your life. Come back to our blog for information on how to manage stress in healthy and constructive ways.