You must be aware of the relationship between psychological stress and cardiovascular disease, bronchial asthma, and irritable bowel syndrome. But are you aware that emotions can affect your skin? 

In other words, stress can harm your skin, and stressful events also can trigger autoimmune diseases such as alopecia and vitiligo. It can also flare the existing disease like acne, rosacea, alopecia, and hives.

When there is some kind of psychological stress, it is perceived by central stress response and leads to activation of the neuroendocrine system (Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis and Sympathetic Nervous System). Exposure to chronic stress can also cause long term health problems than acute stress. The long term stress results in a prolonged or permanent physiological, emotional, and behavioral response, and this plays a major role in the etiology and exacerbation of many diseases.

Let’s see how this stress and hormone release due to stress affects the skin and cause skin disease. Stressful events, provoked by the negative impact of psychological stress, induces some skin changes on a microscopic level. The changes include:    

• Impaired stratum corneum cohesion.    

• Disturbance of the permeability barrier.    

• Alteration of antimicrobial properties of the epidermal barrier.    

• Delayed wound healing.    

Mental stress can be caused by anything like mishappening live family trouble, trouble in studies or love life, or chasing a deadline at work or even an exam. All these contribute to stress in the body, and the body has its own mechanism its cope the stress. As soon as the body receives any level of stress, it sends the signals to the brain, and it signals for the release of various kinds of chemicals and hormones to cope up with stress. The chemicals such as interleukins which causes inflammation.

Many dermatological diseases have shown the effect of stress on its cause like psoriasis, vitiligo, atopic dermatitis, lichen planus, acne vulgaris, pemphigus vulgaris, seborrheic dermatitis, and even skin cancers.

Alopecia Areata is a patchy hair loss that can occur in any part of the body but is common on scalp and beard. Alopecia Areata develops when the immune system attacks growing hair follicles. This is one of the diseases which may be triggered by stress. These are evidence of the presence of oxidative stress in alopecia areata, so the treatments which reduce the oxidative stress are considered these days for treating alopecia areata.

Eczema is characterized by dry patches with itchy inflamed skin anywhere in the body. Anxiety and stress are common triggers to cause eczema flare ups. Psychological stress affects skin barriers, increases dryness, and initiates itch-scratch behaviors. So that is how stress is a responsible factor of eczema.

Trichotillomania and skin picking disorder is an impulsive pulling and picking of hair and skin to cope up the negative emotions. A stressed person becomes more involved in such activities.

Telogen effluvium:  Due to stress, pro-inflammatory chemicals turn the growth phase of hair to the falling phase leading to excessive hair loss. 

Like in acne, not just hormones and acne producing bacteria, but the stress also plays a part in the ideology of acne. Stress can trigger breakout as well as it can make existing acne worse. It’s because of stress-related hormones called corticotropin-releasing hormone. 

That’s why you must have experienced more breakouts when you do have some exams or chasing some deadlines, which means your stress level is high. So reducing your stress level is an essential factor to get rid of acne.

Atopic Dermatitis is a disease that troubles many children and adults and has a relation with stress. Atopic dermatitis is a chronic relapsing inflammatory skin disease with eczematous patchy skin and pruritus. During stress, the sensory nerves, in this disease, release neuro-mediators that regulate inflammatory immune response and barrier function. In response to stress, the up-regulation of neuropeptide mediators in the brain, endocrine organs, and peripheral nervous system occurs. This directly affects the immune and resident cells in the skin. It causes an increase in mast cells and mast-cell nerve fiber contacts. This also affects the skin barrier, thus causing a flare of atopic dermatitis.

The same process, as mentioned above, occurs in psoriasis, so stress is a common triggering factor in the patients of psoriasis. And at the same time, psoriasis flares can cause stress, especially in women, so it’s a vicious cycle. So the patients are advised to perform yoga meditation to learn techniques to relax. It helps in treatment. There is a study on psoriasis patients. It proved that the patients who listened to meditation while on light therapy improved factor than those who were only on only light therapy.

Our skin is exposed not only to the natural environmental factors but also to pollutants. Prolonged or repetitive exposure to environmental stress disturbs the skin barrier function leading to the development of various skin diseases. Air pollutants are absorbed directly through the skin into the subcutaneous tissue or via hair follicles and sweat glands.

Air pollutants exert a harmful effect on the skin due to an increase in oxidative stress. These air pollutants such as UV radiation, polycyclic aromatic matter, ozone, cigarette smoke. These all affect the skin, thus leading to various diseases and early aging.

Keep Healthy Keep Glowing!