Your precious skin gets affected in many ways that go beyond the effects of skincare products, food habits, and pollution. As more and more research is being conducted on the body’s largest organ, researchers have found that our skin and physiological stress share a strong connection. Many have considered psychological stress as a major factor for aggravating or the onset of various skin diseases. The “Brain-Skin Connection” has made everyone curious, starting from the researchers and doctors to common people like us.
In today’s world, stress is an inevitable stimulus. From the urgent messages and the latest tragedy on the news channel to never-ending work deadlines and heaps of laundry, stress has become an intangible part of everyone’s life. Whether it is a life-changing experience or the daily stressors that hit us in the morning, stress can cause more than just irritation and agitation. The Brain-Skin connection is a natural mental and physical reaction that can greatly affect the body, especially facial area 1.
How Does Stress Affect The Skin?
Chronic stress negatively impacts the health of the skin apart from giving you the occasional “resting bitch face.” Constant stress triggers a significant threat response in the body, including the release of stress hormones and adrenaline that negatively affects the skin in the long run. Studies have proved that long-term and excessive stress can weaken the body’s immune system and specific organs. For instance, our skin is the most vulnerable organ that responds to stress drastically. Our skin is more susceptible to various infections when we are under stress, leading to hormonal breakouts.
The skin is mainly affected by the stress hormone called cortisol. The cortisol level is generally regulated by the internal circadian clock that is at its peak in the morning, which gradually lowers down around midnight. So when we are stressed, the cortisol level in our body is disrupted that can cause exacerbate conditions such as atopic dermatitis, rosacea, psoriasis, and eczema as well as acne 2.
Dr. Julie Russak, a New York dermatologist, has rightfully pointed out that even though we live in a society obsessed with skincare culture, our nails, hair, and skin get the least attention when it comes to survival. During times of stress, essential minerals and vitamins are used to regulate the body’s standard metabolic processes and produce stress hormones. And, the skin works as an external barometer that represents the internal phenomenons in our body. Hence we often notice sudden dullness in our skin when we are experiencing or have experienced stress or fatigue. But the thing is, a dull complexion, wrinkles, and fine lines are at the last of our priority list when we are stressed. Consistent, high levels of cortisol work as a catabolic element in the body that decreases elastin and collagen production that is essential for skin.
Common Physical Effects of Prolonged Chronic Stress On Skin
Everybody’s skin and body react differently when they experience stress. However, there are still some generic effects that almost everyone faces. These include,
When your mind is alert to incoming stressors, it slows down the digestion process in the gut. This affects the presence of healthy bacteria in the gut and results in the growth of unhealthy bacteria. This condition is called dysbiosis, where the body triggers a cascade of inflammation. Internal inflammation is often linked with flare-ups of eczema, psoriasis, and acne breakouts.
Stressors activates the cortisol and adrenaline levels in the body, which causes you to sweat. As you sweat more when you are stressed, you get dehydrated easily and lose your body water quickly. Therefore, people suffering from chronic skin conditions have dry skin, making them more susceptible to eczema.
Under-eye Bags and Wrinkles
People who have stress also experience swelling and puffiness under the eyelids. Studies have found that stress which often causes sleep deprivation or insomnia, eventually leads to uneven skin pigmentation, reduced elasticity, and emerging fine lines. Reduced skin elasticity is highly responsible for causing under-eye bags that make your eyes look saggy.
It can also change the protein level in the skin that can reduce the elasticity of your skin. This contributes to the formation of wrinkles from a young age. Even the furrowing of the eyebrows repeatedly can lead to wrinkles.
By now, you would know that stress is one of those unavoidable parts of life that you just cannot avoid. But, it becomes a problem when the stress that you are experiencing becomes a routine. That way, it will surely leave an ever-lasting impression on your facial skin. You can understand that you have chronic stress if you start noticing dry skin, gray hair, and acne on your face.
Therefore, you have to adopt proactive measures to help you avoid stressors and manage it when required. This would save you from different skin complications such as premature aging.
Sophie is a health enthusiast and believes that natural cures are the best cures. She believes that mother nature has cures for almost all diseases and living life holistically is the way forward.
Along with being a writer, Kajal is a health and wellness coach. It is her life’s mission and passion to spread the message of natural and holistic health.