Stress Part 1: What It Does to Your Skin
Stress affects everyone. You’d be surprised at all the bizarre ways stress can impact your body. If you’ve read my blog posts, you’ll know that working with mental health is a huge passion of mine. I’ve decided to write a series on stress to highlight how big of a role it plays in overall health. In the first few articles I’ll talk about different ways stress can impact the body. Then I’ll go over some ways you can lower stress on your own. This week, we’ll start at the surface and talk about how stress affects the skin. This is also known as the brain-skin connection. Read on to find out more!
Most of us can relate to having an inconvenient stress-breakout just before a big event. The stress-acne link has been studied for a long time. When the body is stressed, it releases all kinds of chemicals. Some of these stress chemicals act on the skin to increase sebum which clogs pores and leads to pimples. Some increase inflammation in and around skin cells which causes redness and pain. Stress may also weaken the immune system. This makes the skin more prone to infection by acne-causing bacteria.
There are a couple different theories on why the skin ages. One theory is that DNA damage, oxidation and inflammation age the skin. The stress hormones epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol have been found to increase DNA damage. They may also reduce skin cell regeneration. Stress can decrease the anti-oxidant functions in skin cells. These damages can lead to signs of aging like fine lines, dark spots and loss of elasticity.
ECZEMA AND PSORIASIS
Stress seems to alter the skin in eczema patients in ways that are not fully understood. These alterations impact skin inflammation, oxidation and repair.
Psoriasis is a skin condition that involves itchy, scaly patches forming on the skin. It’s a condition driven by inflammation and immune reactions. In psoriasis patients, stress seems to increase the inflammation molecules in the body which aggravates the skin. The skin of psoriasis patients may also have higher levels of chemicals that respond to stress.
Stress has been shown to increase the activity of mast cells. Mast cells play a major roll in hive development and itchy skin.
Naturopathic medicine has a lot to offer when it comes to stress. Herbs, nutrition and acupuncture work wonders on stress levels. If you need help with your stress or your skin, book an appointment or free 15-minute consult!
Dr. Samantha Dass is currently a naturopathic doctor working at Holland Landing Health Centre in East Gwillimbury, Ontario, which services Holland Landing, Newmarket, Aurora, Keswick and Bradford areas. If you are interested in naturopathic services please contact Holland Landing Health Centre at 905-853-7900 or via e-mail at [email protected]