How Stress Can Impact Your Skin’s Health

February 5, 2021

National Stress Day
by Amanda Etkind

Have you ever noticed pesky pimples pop up during an extra hectic period at work? Or, maybe you’re going through a difficult breakup and realize your skin is totally freaking out. If you ever wondered why this happens, we’re here to let you in on not-so little secret, it’s stress. As you’ve probably heard, your mind, body, and soul (we know, it sounds cliche, but it’s true) are all connected. So when you’re going through something emotionally it more often than not shows up on your skin in the form of dryness, breakouts, redness, dermatitis and more. Keep reading to learn why it happens, how to react to it, and ways to reduce stress to keep you feeling and looking your best no matter what you’re going through. 


What Actually Happens Inside My Body When I’m Stressed?

The source of your spots, inflammation, and rashes actually go pretty deep. You see, many of your skin responses are a result of hormones, neurotransmitters and other factors that happen inside the body. Dr. Forum Patel of Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York City explains to what happens to your body when you’re under stress, “your body thinks it’s under attack, and it’s going to form all these inflammatory markers or inflammatory cells to help treat that attack.” Basically, when you experience a rather stressful incident, it all starts at the adrenal glands, which are small-ish glands located at the top of your kidneys. Your adrenal glands receive a message from the brain that you’re in distress and your body releases different hormones like adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine which can show up on your skin in some way.


So How Does This Appear On My Skin?

Everyone’s body is different, so your body’s response may appear on your skin in a number of ways. Just like we previously mentioned, when your body feels stressed your fight-or-flight response kicks in which then releases adrenaline, cortisol, and other hormones into the bloodstream. Depending on your body’s response you may notice redness or rosacea, acne, dryness, oiliness, hives, and if you suffer from any skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema you may experience flare ups during one of these stress-induced episodes. Another thing to note, is that you may experience these symptoms gradually (i.e. an acne flareup) or more immediately (i.e. hives, or another type of rash). 


How Do I Care For My Skin During This Time?

There’s really no one way to treat your skin, ever. Skincare is so nuanced and is dependent on what is actually going on. This being said, some general tips are to skip over any harsh treatments and opt for nourishing, and hydrating basics that won’t aggravate any skin ailments you’re experiencing. If you’ve had a flareup of some sort you’ll want to keep the area clean and hydrated. Be sure to talk to your dermatologist for specifics on how-to treat whatever symptoms you’re experiencing. If you have minor acne spots or redness, we suggest sticking to light hydrating moisturizers that don’t contain any harsh actives and be sure to keep the area clean—you don’t want oil to build up causing more breakouts. Beyond skincare, we suggest clocking in those Z’s, meditating, low-impact workouts, and practicing deep breathing exercises to ensure you’re treating yourself with care from the inside out.


What Can I Do To Overall Reduce Stress? 

Take a look at the root of the stress and how often you’re experiencing it. Decipher whether it’s a particularly stressful instance or you’re stressed all of the time. Overall, implementing mindful and healthy practices into your lifestyle can help keep stress at bay. To name a few we suggest practicing deep breathing before bed, stay off your phone while you’re trying to go to bed, exercise, eat a well-balanced diet, and try to get adequate sleep. All of these things help you lead a healthier, and happier life which in turn can reduce stress. 


We know all of this is easier said than done, but it’s important to treat your mind and body from the outside in.  Now that you’re all caught up on the correlation between stress and your skin, we hope you’ll implement some of these habits into your daily life to ensure you’re always feeling like your very best self.