With our daily lives of constant rushing around and working our tails off, our stress levels are at their highest. With pressure to have a money-making career (which is not always fulfilling), families to provide for, and bills hanging over our heads, we become accustomed to this lifestyle leading to a state of continual stress. Many times, we are unaware of the heightened state and continue to push ourselves, leading to a weakened immune system and impaired epidermal barrier, influencing skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, rosacea, eczema, and premature aging. Let's look at how stress hormones create these skin disorders and how we can reduce stress for a healthy complexion!
Acne and stress go together like peanut butter and jelly. Many of my clients come in with large breakouts, especially around their chin and neck and one of the first things I ask is, "What are your stress levels like?". As we become stressed, our bodies produce the stress hormone called cortisol. As our cortisol levels become elevated, our sebaceous glands are triggered, leading to an increase in oil production blocking the hair follicles, leading to acne. Prolonged stress also depletes our bodies of essential fatty acids which delays wound healing, keeping our skin at a constant state of inflammation.
Sticking with the loss of essential fatty acids, this is extremely important in understanding how sensitivities and inflammation emerge. Our tissues contain chemicals called prostaglandins, which are groups of lipids that assist in repairing damaged skin. When under chronic stress, these lipids become "overworked" and lead to a breakdown of essential fatty acids, causing dryness, rosacea, and general sensitivity. By neglecting the symptoms, our skin becomes more sensitive, leading to dermatitis with an increased reactiveness to skin care products and even hives.
Heightened cortisol levels disrupts the formation of new collagen, creating weaker and more fragile collagen. Our skin loses elasticity and plumpness while losing its capacity to hold onto water, thus making lines and wrinkles form and become more prominent. Our cells need to communicate effectively for proper production and cortisol overtime slows the blood supply, leading to stagnation and dryness.
When you can identify what is causing stress to your body and skin, you can take better care of yourself by taking small steps to diminish effects.
Image via Valorie Darling