All of us experience stress at some point in our lives. A common assumption or tendency is to attribute it to purely a mental state or to downplay it as part and parcel of a modern lifestyle.
Stress, however, has a very real impact on the health of our skin and body. It is important to be mindful of the harmful effects of stress on our skin so that we can take steps to manage and minimise its effects.
If you have existing skin conditions like psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema, increased levels of stress will lead to flare-ups and longer periods of inflamed skin.
In fact, some individuals may experience their first flare-up of these skin conditions as an adult during a particularly stressful period.
Stress does not directly cause acne, but it can exacerbate existing pimples.
Stress hormones trigger an overproduction in oil glands, which leads to more clogged pores and acne breakouts. These breakouts are also more stubborn and persistent, and may result in scarring.
High levels of stress over a prolonged period is bad for our skin and body. Stress impacts our immune system and makes it harder for us to fight off illnesses and bacteria.
A lowered cell immunity makes for slower skin and wound healing, and the skin remains irritated and inflamed for longer.
While your skin may feel oily and slick, your skin barrier is likely compromised with high levels of stress.
A damaged skin barrier often results in oily-dehydrated skin, which is more likely to experience breakouts while looking dull and lackluster due to the slower rate of cell turnover and lack of hydration.
Opting for water or gel-based formulations can help manage stress flare-ups.
Stress often causes us to feel anxious or restless, which means itchy and wandering fingers!
You are more likely to pick at your scabs or acne, which not only slows the healing process but also exposes the sensitised skin to bacteria and pollution.
Stress and lack of sleep will age you. Stress reduces the rate of cell turnover and skin healing, and the impaired skin barrier means your skin is more likely to be dehydrated.
All these adds up to more wrinkles and signs of ageing on your skin!
Stress leads to flare-ups and increased sensitivity in skin.
Coupled with the compromised skin barrier and cell immunity, your skin is more likely to be affected by environmental triggers like pollution, bacteria, and UV rays and remain irritated and inflamed for longer periods of time.
We often emphasise the need for a fixed skincare routine to manage skin concerns and keep our skin healthy. But realistically, skincare would not be a priority if you are undergoing a lot of stress.
Skipping crucial steps or *gasp* forgoing cleansing after a long, stressful day will lead to a host of skin issues, especially if your skin is already troubled. Breaking your routine can easily set your skin progress back several months!
Of course, resolving stress is not as easy as saying: “Well, just don’t be stressed!”.
If the stress has a serious negative impact on your skin, health, and wellbeing, you may want to enlist professional help– be it a beautician, a therapist, or support from a loved one.