Your Skin is Affected by Stress

Reblogged from: Your Skin is Affected by Stress.

Your Skin is Affected by Stress

Expert Author E. Jean Perrins

Stress is all around us and we know it affects our mood and our physical health. However, most people don’t know how it can affect our skin. Our skin is pH sensitive and the acid mantle of the skin is what protects our skin from damage.

The skin can be stressed by what we put on it like alkaline soaps, cleansers, even makeup but it can be affected just as much by our stress levels and what we think. If we are constantly tense, anxious and jittery, we have the potential for it to show up in our skin.

The outer layer of skin is called the epidermis. The skin cells lie tightly side by side and on top of one another. This layer of skin forms a strong barrier that is covered with a waxy coating called the acid mantle. This barrier protects the body from bacteria, irritants and other pathogens. When we become stressed, the first thing that is affected is the acid mantle. As the acidic nature of stress changes the pH of the mantle, it begins to break down. Then the epidermis also begins to break up as the protection of the acid mantle is lost. Now the cells begin to show signs of dehydration by shrinking and the lipids in the outer layer begin to dissipate. As the protective layer becomes compromised by stress, the skin becomes more vulnerable to attack and more permeable to invaders. The layers of skin under the epidermis can now be invaded by irritants and pathogens. Examples of this are eczema and psoriasis.

Stress causes the body to release a powerful hormone called cortisol into the blood stream. Cortisol is what is called the fight-or-flight hormone. It is what gives you the jitters and can even make you nauseated if you are really anxious. It acts like steroid and can shut down the immune system in preparation to run away. If you need to protect yourself from an invisible attacker you need all your energy and focus to do so. All unnecessary systems are shut down. Chronic stress and its accompanying immune suppression makes you more prone to colds, flu and other infections. Your heightened hypersensitivity makes you more prone to allergens and allergic reactions, creating rashes and hives on the skin.

Atopic dermatitis is a condition where the skin reacts to potential allergens, becoming red, swollen and itchy. It can be brought on by stress or made worse by it. In a study of 26 people in Japan with this form of dermatitis, they found that people who watched a funny movie, had a reduction in symptoms for two hours, even if they came in contact to what they were allergic to. Laughter busts stress and reduces levels of stress hormones in the body, which in turn reduces rash and skin irritation symptoms.

Stress also makes acne worse or can bring on an episode. Students during exam times can be more prone to worsening of their acne because of escalating stress levels. Cold sores too, can erupt during stressful times.

We frown and scrunch up our face when we are stressed as our faces and our jaw tense. This can cause frown lines and wrinkles on our skin that is habitually frowning. These can be hard to eliminate and can make us look older than our years.

Dry skin is much more likely if you are stressed. As the acid mantle breaks down, moisture is lost in the skin, causing it to look dry and dull. It can feel dry and rough, even itchy, not naturally silky and smooth.
There are all kinds of lotions and potions that you can put on your skin but the best course of action, besides stress busting (see my article How To Bust Stress In Your Life) is to look after your skin from the inside out. Plenty of clean alkaline, ionized water is great for moisturizing your skin, as is essential fatty acids. Eating the right foods, (see my article Foods That Make Your Skin Glow) also helps to give you that sparkly, glowing look.

Since stress turbo ages your body and your skin, you need to use every strategy to kick it out of your life. If you need to, get some help from someone you trust. You only have one body and stress can wear it out pretty quickly.

Jean Perrins is a former nurse and admitted health nut who writes health articles for a number of on-line and off-line sources. As an avid researcher, she knows how to squeeze every ounce of health in a body. To access more of Jean’s articles, go to

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