Lucija Kračun, MD
Specialist of family practise
AAAMED diploma for aesthetic medicine
Is your “skin on stress”? Psychological strain can show up as “stress skin.” Handling stress is actually easier than you think it is. Interesting to know more? Continue reading. We know today that stress can have many negative impacts on the skin.
In this blog, we will explain to you what damage can stress do to the skin.
The very beginning of everything is already in utero, where two different systems are born: the brain and the skin. A circle of life between this two is created for a lifetime, forever.
When one senses embarrassment, the other blushes. When one senses pain, the other reacts to it. And when one bears the burden of a pandemic, political unrest, systemic racism, climate change … well, the other gets pimples, eczema outbreak, psoriasis flare-ups…. The result is dull, dehydrated, and aged skin.
There are two different types of stress: acute stress and chronic stress. Exposure to acute stress has positive survival effects, such as, heightening your senses, enhancing mental clarity, and helping to create collagen to speed up wound repair. Now it is here, and the second moment is away.
Continuing stress, chronic stress, is the one that causes problems, it affects your skin on long-term.
There are two different types of stress: acute stress and chronic stress.
Exposure to acute stress has positive survival effects, such as, heightening your senses, enhancing mental clarity, and helping to create collagen to speed up wound repair.
Now it is here, and the second moment is away.
So how stress affects your skin?
Cortisol is the primary stress hormone that affects the skin barrier. The skin barrier’s function is to retain and lock moisture in the skin and keep allergens, irritants, and pollutants out. Three things are crucial for normal function of skin barrier: lipids, water and microbiome.
When exposed to stress, cortisol activates and slows down the production of essential lipids (oils) in the skin barrier. Lipids normally seal the moisture to the skin and prevent trans epidermal water loss. Under stress, the function of lipids is compromised, and skin starts to “leak” water. The result is dry, damaged, and irritated skin.
At the same time, cortisol stimulates the overproduction of sebum, which can cause acne. Many of us, when under stress, experience more oily skin.
When stressed, the microbiome may experience an overgrowth of so-called bad bacteria and a death of good bacteria. The skin becomes more prone to infections, irritations (like air pollutants), inflammation and hyperpigmentation
Stress prompts the body to produce internal free radicals. When free radicals target elastin and collagen, it leads to fine lines and wrinkles. When free radicals target lipids, it leads to dehydration and skin barrier damage and acne. Chronic exposure to cortisol inhibits the production of hyaluronic acid and collagen.
Stress is an epidemic of the 21st century.