5 Ways Your Skin Reflects Your Stress

Dr. Ravi Khambhati

Table of Contents

All of us have faced stress more than a few times in our lives, & the best part about stress is that it shows. No matter how hard we try to hide it, it either shows in our attitude, our gait and worse, our appearance. Stress can be the worst enemy our skin & looks can have. Our skin has a way of reacting to internal & external stress so much so, that it can get extra sensitive and lead to other skin disorders. Studies have revealed, that a deeper connection exists between stress & our skin. Stress is now proven to be a known cause for many skin conditions such as persistent rashes or skin darkening.

Let’s look at the 5 ways in which mental, physical, and hormonal stress can affect your skin, as these act as signs of stress.

Acne & Clogged Pores
If our mind or body is under prolonged stress, it causes a chemical response which leads to the increased production of the cortisol hormone, which is also known as the stress hormone. This, in turn, leads to excessive oil secretion from glands underneath. This causes the skin to become oilier; leading to acne & clogged pores.  
Inflamed & Irritated skin  Inflammation of the skin can cause eczema, dermatitis & rosacea. Inflammation can also cause acne, this is because stress makes it harder for the skin to stay balanced or handle its immunity. Stress-induced inflammation should be handled with a careful diagnosis. It is advisable to consult a Dermatologist as soon as symptoms of inflammation such as redness, burn appear.

Scalp & Nail Issues  
A lot of times we pull our hair or bite the fingernails, which is a natural reaction to stress. We give out a fight-or-flight response which can be triggered due to excess cortisol in the system. We may even notice an unusual growth in the amount of daily hair fall. However, a case of hair loss or peeling nails could be due insufficient nutrition or other genetic reasons.

Avoiding extra hot showers is generally advised to avoid further damage to the skin and scalp. If symptoms still persist then a doctor consultation should be on the books.  

Slowed/Delayed Healing
Stress-induced cortisol secretion results in the breakdown of natural skin proteins, this can cause the skin to become thin making it easy to tear or bruise. Sometimes severe stress weakens the skin. It also slows down the skin’s natural ability to heal wounds and acne. Sometimes to a such an extent, that it makes the skin susceptible to infection.  

Keeping the skin hydrated internally by drinking water and externally by using moisturizer greatly enhances skin health.

Orbital Eyes, Fine Lines & Wrinkling
People with dark circles always come under scrutiny. Onlookers assume that they are under stress or have been sleep-deprived. Dark circles are the most common signs of the mind & body under stress.  
Apart from dark circles, as we age, fine lines & wrinkles appear on the face due to stress and other environmental factors such as pollution & unhealthy diet.  
Exercising every day, and sleeping on time, jumbled with facial exercises go a long way in keeping the skin healthier. However, if the stress if too great to handle & it shows clearly on the skin, then medical assistance is always advised.  

We all try to care for our skin the best we can, and these signs help us understand the state or condition we are in, mentally & physically. For more info about how to handle stress-related skin conditions, you can always consult a health expert on DocsApp.  

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Dr. Ravi Khambhati

MBBS, DVD - Dermatology