Stress is part of everyday life. It is a tireless, consuming force that sends blood pressures rising and causes your opportunities for rest to go into hiding. The effects of stress on our lives can range from easy to spot, visible differences, to internal changes that can be hard to detect until something more serious happens. Your skin is not immune to the effects of stress, especially when you have pre-existing skin conditions.
The Skin’s Response to Stress
Before we dig into the effects of stress on the skin, we need to understand how our skin protects itself. Our skin has a natural defense system to protect it from infection and injury. When your skin’s defense system is working to protect you, it creates inflammation and different skin sensations like numbness, tingling, itching, and sensitivity. When the body experiences stress, it causes the skin’s defense system to go into overdrive trying to protect itself, even when it is not facing infection or injury.
Stress also impairs the physical barrier function of the skin, making the skin more vulnerable and sensitive, inhibiting the healing process. The results can trigger existing skin conditions to flare, and in turn can also awaken dormant conditions either in remission or not yet diagnosed.
Stress & Existing Skin Conditions
For those with existing diagnosed skin conditions, stress is a common attendee on the flare-up trigger list. Eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea are just a few of the conditions that are made worse by stress. To make matters worse, when your skin condition flares up you may become more stressed from the visual symptoms, which leads to a seemingly never-ending cycle of flare-ups.
Stress Can Induce Skin Conditions
In case the flare-up triggers from stress weren’t enough, it can also induce certain skin conditions that were previously undiagnosed. For example, if you have a predisposition for eczema, stress can be an awakening trigger. Some conditions are closely linked to stress, such as certain types of dermatitis and hair shedding.
Hair pulling and skin-picking disorder are conditions that can also develop as a coping mechanism for stress.
The Sweet Success of Stress Management
Working with your dermatologist and following their recommended treatment plan is only the beginning. When you can get your stress to a manageable level in conjunction with the recommended treatment options, you can reduce the number of skin-related flare-ups.
Stress management does not have to be like an Indiana Jones adventure; puzzling and high risk. It can be something as small as doing things you enjoy at the same time every day. The key is finding out what works for you, sticking with it, and getting help when you need it.
If your stress has caused any skin issues, don’t fret. You have options. The board-certified dermatologists at Alamo Heights can treat a multitude of skin conditions, big or small. To make an appointment for an initial consultation, call (210) 255-8447, or click HERE.