How Common Are Stress-Related Skin Issues?

How Common Are Stress-Related Skin Issues?
How Common Are Stress-Related Skin Issues?

We’re all under a great deal of stress. Whether it’s difficult relationships or work situations, sometimes that stress takes a toll on our bodies.

We know stress can impact everything from our health to our weight to our hair, but it can also have a significantly negative impact on our skin. “Needless to say patients in my practice complain of stress,” says Ulysses H. Scarpidis, MD of Scarpidis Aesthetics in New York City. “This stress can affect patients both mentally and physically.”

One major (and visible!) sign of stress is a change in the skin. “The body produces various hormones in response to stress, but cortisol and epinephrine are mostly responsible for the negative effects,” explains Dr. Scarpidis. “This can be seen as an increase in breakouts, or even sallow ‘sad’ skin. A sallow complexion can make you look sickly and older than you really are, unfortunately.”

Release of cortisol causes the skin to decrease its retention of moisture, which in turn causes the oil glands to overcompensate and can lead to acne breakouts. “The decreased moisture can also exacerbate eczema and psoriasis. In addition, high cortisol levels lead to premature aging. Prolonged increases of cortisol can cause breakdown of collagen and elastin, while decreased skin moisture accentuates fine lines and wrinkles.

Epinephrine, released during stress to promote the fight or flight response, clamps down on tiny blood vessels in the skin to redirect the blood to the brain and muscles. Prolonged decrease in blood flow to the skin diminishes oxygen and nutrient delivery, resulting in decreased collagen and elastin production, less-than-stellar skin tone, and overactive sebaceous glands leading to acne breakouts,” explains Dr. Scarpidis.

Of course, as we are all well-aware, decreasing stress is a lot easier said than done. “Stress management techniques ranging from meditation, breathing exercises, calisthenics, and adequate sleep are oftentimes hard to adhere to, but have the most advantageous impact to a patient’s overall health,” says Dr. Scarpidis. “When addressing stress-induced skin changes, I recommend that in addition to stress management, patients should avoid caffeine and alcohol since these increase adrenaline and further dehydration. Improving diet and nutrition can improve hydration and provide vitamins that help restore collagen and elastin to the skin. A medical-grade skincare regimen can provide antioxidants to fight free radicals, repair cell damage, and moisturize the skin to decrease oil production and decrease acne breakouts,” notes Dr. Scarpidis. Peptides may also help to promote collagen and elastin production while retinols can improve cell turnover and help maintain a youthful look.

And it’s always OK to get some help. Consulting a board-certified plastic surgeon who can evaluate your skin and recommend a tailor-based skincare regimen is vital for healthy, youthful, stress-free skin, but while you are at it, drink a ton of water, sleep more, and consider some meditation or a restorative yoga class. A little bit of time out may do wonders in its own right!

Patients might not be aware that plastic surgeons can assist them with their skincare regimen – and help guide patients on a path to relatively simple interventions for youth-maintenance as they age. Think of it as staving off what used to be inevitable in your 40s and 50s, (the more invasive surgical options), until your 60s and 70s, (depending on your genetics of course). The more you do now to prevent aging, the better off you’ll be long-term.

Board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Brett Snyder explains in this video clip the value of including a plastic surgeon in your skincare.

About the Author

Aly Walansky is a lifestyles writer with over a decade of experience covering beauty, health, and travel for various esteemed publications. Her blog, A Little Alytude (www.alytude.com) was launched in 2006 and continues to be a strong voice in the lifestyles arena. Based in the ever-trendy Park Slope area of Brooklyn, she divides her time between her shih tsu Lily, her soap opera addiction, and scouting out fun new martini bars.