How we feel on the inside could be affecting how we look on the outside. In fact, studies link factors that affect our emotional well-being. Stress can manifest itself on one’s appearance in many ways, but primarily by making the skin more sensitive and more reactive.
For example, stress can make psoriasis or rosacea worse, result in acne lesions that are more inflamed and more persistent, cause brittle nails and ridging of the nails, cause hair loss, cause or worsen hives, and cause excessive perspiration.
Stress also is a known trigger or can be a worsening factor for fever blisters, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis and has even been shown to impair skin barrier function and dehydrate the skin — allowing more irritants, allergens, and infectious agents to penetrate the skin and cause problems. Beyond the direct physiological effects of stress, patients under stress also tend to neglect or abuse their skin. For example, they often lack the energy and motivation to adhere to their skin care regimens, and there also might be signs of stress-related behaviors such as scratching, pulling or rubbing that can exacerbate problems.
When doctors treat both the skin and stress, the skin often clears more quickly and completely as the influences of stress are diminished. This, in turn, can help decrease a patient’s overall anxiety level, and the patient may start to feel better about how they look and how they feel emotionally.
On a microscopic level, stress reduction can decrease the release of pro-inflammatory stress hormones and chemicals. For example, release of neuropeptides (or stress chemicals released from the nerve endings) can be reduced with stress management techniques. This often results in skin that looks and functions better.
Psychodermatology is a field that addresses the impact of an individual’s emotion as it relates to the skin.
The mind and skin are connected on many different levels and it’s important to take care of both areas in order to look your best.
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