Living with a skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis can have a profound effect on a person’s mental well-being while, on the flip side, stress and anxiety have been linked to the onset of acne. As we’re learning more and more, our bodies comprise complex and intricately linked systems, so when you’re looking at a problem such as skin flare-ups, you might want to take a look at going in a holistic, well-rounded approach to finding a solution.
Just as the gut and the mind are linked, so too are the mind and the skin. Beauty brand ESPA just carried out its own Calm Study, and 74% of respondents felt like stress had an impact on their skin including acne, dry, and flaky skin. But just how much does our brain inside affect how our skin looks on the outside and, with mindfulness a real buzzword right now, can changing our mind-set improve our skin?
Here's what we found out.
How Stress and Anxiety Affect the Skin
To understand how stress and anxiety can affect the skin, we need to understand a little about the endocrine system (we kept it brief). Essentially, our endocrine system comprises glands that pump out various hormones, which are essentially chemical messengers. When all the checks and balances are in place, the human body is a well-oiled machine, but outside factors such as stress can cause this intricate system to slip out of sync.
Hormones are incredibly important in dermatology, especially when considering the role of psychological stress in triggering or exacerbating, common skin diseases including eczema, psoriasis, and acne. There is increasing evidence that stress hormones such as CRH, ACTH, prolactin, and substance P can aggravate skin diseases.
Stress hormones have an effect on the sebaceous glands found within the skin, which can lead to a worsening of acne levels. However, the level of stress required for this to occur varies from each individual. There is evidence that both the stress from exams and sleep deprivation can make your acne worse.
And of course, while there is a direct link between stress hormones and skin disease, there are also the lifestyle consequences that come from being under pressure. In times of stress, many people turn to sugary foods and alcohol. Evidence suggests alcohol makes the symptoms of psoriasis worse whilst new findings show a link between a high–glycemic load diet and the symptoms of acne. This would suggest a low-GI diet may help prevent flares of acne. So, reaching for that large glass of red or Oreo’s when you’re stressed out won’t be doing your complexion any favors.
You have to take the whole situation into account in order to remedy it. As there is such a strong link between stress, anxiety and skin disease, finding ways to unwind and not turn to junk food while taking proper care of your skin are big steps to tackle. You cannot separate the way you feel about your skin; it’s the first thing you see every day.
While certain skin diseases can’t be cured, such as eczema and psoriasis, your skin and life habits need to be taken care of in order to manage the symptoms.
Of course, stress and anxiety are only part of the puzzle! In cases of eczema, stress may make your skin disease worse, but food allergens, aeroallergens, cold weather and the use of soaps can all be contributing factors. But it’s safe to say that a calm mind will only benefit the quality of your skin in the long term.
How to Manage Stress-Related Skin Flare-Ups
If you can pinpoint your skin breaking out or turning dry to a time in the month when your stress levels might be rising or you’re under more pressure, this would suggest conditions are lifestyle-related rather than caused by products or medication, for example.
In an attempt to resolve the issue, people often change everything at once, including diet and products, which makes it tricky to make a diagnosis. If you think it’s stress-related, keep your products (if they’re working for you and don’t have these bad ingredients in them) the same and try to find a way to reduce your stress.
It’s important to manage your stress, and you’ll need to find the best way for you as an individual. You could try beginning the day with some gentle stretching to open up the body and reinforce your gratitude for what you have. If you feel a bit down, say some positive thoughts out loud as feeling positive in yourself makes everything else more positive. Also, do some deep breathing exercises before going to sleep, maybe with some essential oils. Breathe in through the nose for four seconds and out through the mouth for eight seconds. During this time, go through your day from end to beginning so that you can let any anxiety or stressful situations go.
Skin Care for Flare-Ups
If your skin is irritated, inflamed, or breaking out (in zits, eczema or psoriasis outbreaks), then it might be time to consider new products. For troubled skin types, it’s important that you’re not using products that are filled with fragrance, mineral oil, preservatives, or phthalates, or PEGs. You want ingredients that work for your skin, not take away from it.
At Wild Naturals, our tailored skin care is ideal for eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, and acne skin types. With manuka honey, shea butter, coconut oil, aloe vera, and cehami flower extract as the main ingredients, the benefits from each of these natural elements will transform your stressed, flared skin into calm, nourished, and on its way to healing!
Shop the Wild Naturals online store today to help your skin and have one less stressful thing to worry about.