Effects of Stress on Your Skin

Stress can affect your whole body, including your hair, nails, and skin. Since stress is a part of life, what matters is how you handle it.

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 you break out more when you’re stressed? This is because stress causes your body to make hormones like cortisol, which tells glands in your skin to make more oil. Oily skin is more prone to acne and other skin problems.

Stress can also:

Make skin problems worse. For example, stress can aggravate psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema. It 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’re stressed, you might skimp on this part of your routine, which can aggravate skin issues.

It can also be stressful to have problems with your skin. Some people feel so bad about how it looks that they keep to themselves, which adds more stress.

If you have an issue that doesn't heal or keeps coming back, rethink how you handle stress.

8 Ways to Ease the Effects of Stress on Your Skin

You probably can’t avoid stress completely, but you can try ways to handle it better. Try these approaches:

  1. Don't neglect your skin. Take care of it, 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 10 minutes. Take a bath or read a book.
  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 8 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 William Blahd, MD on June 15, 2017

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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