The holidays are here, and there has never been a more precarious time for your skin. On one hand, annual parties and get-togethers throughout the season force us to look our absolute best. At the same time, end-of-the-year commitments, seasonal rushes at work, and family obligations put us under increasing amounts of stress. A survey from the American Psychological Association found that half of U.S. women experience heightened stress during the holidays.
If people aren’t careful, they’ll be left with dozens of holiday 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.
Stress Creates Acne Breakouts
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.
Stress Triggers Sudden Hair Loss
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 Causes Hives & Rashes to Form
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.
Stress Creates Wrinkles
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.
Stress May Trigger an Eczema Flare-Up
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.
To learn how you can restore your skin’s appearance with other research-backed treatments, call the Trenton skin specialists at Kessel Dermatology today.