The Effects Of Stress On The Skin

I’ve blogged before about how stress can affect your digestive system but it can impact other parts of your body too. It’s quickly become somewhat of a plague in our society, with 59% of us admitting to daily stress in their lives

In fact, it’s a serious medical issue that can negatively impact many other physical and mental functions of the body. Some noticeable symptoms include insomnia, irritability, poor skin, and a decline in overall health. Yet our skin is often the first visible thing we notice going south.

The most obvious signs of stress manifested through the skin and how they can worsen if not properly addressed. Our skin can tell us a lot about our health!

person holding tea filled cup

Nervous Habits

People often pick up nervous habits when they’re stressed. While some are harmless, others can ruin their skin. Excoriation disorders, or skin picking, are particularly bad.

Excoriation disorder leads people to pick off bits of their skin, often to the point of open wounds or scarring. Most people who experience excoriation disorder when stressed don’t do it to the extreme, but it can cause breakouts and leave scars nonetheless.

One trick many people employ to try and curb the disorder is to have their partner or close friend correct them whenever they’re picking. Others use the rubber band method.

While it may not stop the habit entirely, you’ll become hyper-aware of how often you pick your face and likely begin to do it less.

Aggravating Allergies

Many people suffer from allergies that cause redness, irritation, and other skin problems. Stress can make those symptoms even worse (and it’s linked to your gut too: read my post on why you might get random allergies for more info).


Allergies are triggered when the body mistakes a harmless substance, like pollen, for a dangerous infection and sends out an immune response. One chemical aspect of stress causes the body’s immune responses to become more extreme. This includes it’s response to harmless allergens, so stress will make your allergies much worse!

Cortisol and Breakouts

The precise relationship between stress and acne is complicated, but they appear to have a strong link. In general, stress makes existing cases of acne worse, however, it’s unlikely to encourage breakouts in people who have no history of acne n the first place.

Stress causes the body to release cortisol, a hormone that’s been linked to acne. This increased release can lead to a vicious cycle of acne breakouts due to stress. The cycle only continues because looking in the mirror and seeing acne only perpetuates the stress cycle.

Encouraging Neglect

Stress can cause people to neglect their health and well-being. This is the most insidious aspect of stress in relation to the skin because it’s essentially self-sabotage. Stress can cause people to feel unmotivated, depressed and distracted from their goals, which in turn can negatively affect daily routines like proper skin care hygiene.

It can be hard to emerge from a slump and deal with this problem, but it truly is the only remedy. Despite how stressed out you may feel, in times like these taking 20 minutes out of your morning routine for self-care and quality personal time could become the most cherished moments of your day.

Fighting Stress

design, desk, displayFinally, there are specific treatments to deal with almost every problem stress creates, but the best cure is learning how to deal with stress itself. Most of us feel stressed at some point during their lives, so learning how to cope with it is much more useful than trying to figure out ways to eliminate stress entirely.

Strong relationships and support from friends and family go a long way to help deal with stress. They also make it easier to pursue other stress-fighting strategies.

 Meditation is another valuable tool. It’s a skill, so it takes some time to learn how to do it well, but similar to yoga, even as a novice it’s positive effects will still kick in. it’s one of the most powerful stress-fighting techniques out there for anyone who’s willing to invest the time in trying it out and it’s really easy to do via your iPhone. One of the best things for me is getting outside and into nature-and unplugging from social media and all the stress of daily life.

I hope these tips were useful. The skin is a fascinating area of health and I hope to blog about it more soon.


This is a collaborative post.

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