Effects of Stress on Your Skin

Stress can affect your whole body, including your skin, hair, and nails.

Your emotions have a powerful effect on your skin. Since stress is a part of life, what matters is how you handle it.

woman touching forehead

How Stress Affects Skin

Stress causes a chemical response in your body that makes skin more sensitive and reactive. It can also make it harder for skin problems to heal.

Have you ever noticed that when you are stressed, you break out more? This is because stress causes your body to produce cortisol and other hormones, which tells your sebaceous glands to produce more oil. Oily skin is more prone to acne and other skin problems.

Stress can also:

Worsen skin problems. For example, stress can worsen psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema. Stress can also cause hives and other types of skin rashes and trigger a flare-up of fever blisters.

Interfere with daily skin care. If you are stressed, you might skimp on your skin care, which can aggravate skin problems.

Skin problems can also be stressful. Some people are so embarrassed by their skin that they keep to themselves, which adds more stress, worsening the problem.

If you have a skin problem that doesn't heal or keeps coming back, rethink how you handle stress.

8 Ways to Reduce the Effects of Stress on Your Skin

Although it's impossible to avoid stress completely, there are ways to handle it better. Try these approaches:

  1. Don't neglect your skin. Take care of your skin, even if you're tired or stressed.
  2. Get regular exercise. It's good for your skin and the rest of your body.
  3. Take time for yourself to do something you enjoy, even if you only have ten minutes. Take a bath or read an article.
  4. Take a walk around the block.
  5. Practice stress management techniques, such as breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, or visual imagery.
  6. Get enough sleep. Seven to eight hours each night is ideal.
  7. Say no. It's OK to set limits and boundaries to lower your stress.
  8. Talk to someone. Seek support from a friend or a professional therapist.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Debra Jaliman, MD on June 11, 2015

Sources

SOURCES:

Department of Health and Human Services: "Stress and Your Health."

American Academy of Family Physicians: "Psychodermatology: The Mind and Skin Connection."

American Academy of Dermatology: "What is psoriasis?" 

American Academy of Dermatology: "What is rosacea?" 

American Academy of Dermatology: "What is eczema?" 

American Academy of Dermatology: "Stress and Skin."

Acne Resource Center: "Does Stress Cause Acne?"

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