You may have heard that stress is bad for you, but the gravity of that statement may not sink in until you take a closer look at how stress affects different parts of your body. Since the skin is the largest organ in your body, it might be helpful for you to start your journey of understanding the harmful effects of stress by examining how it adversely affects the skin. Read on and discover six of the most noticeable ways through which stress can harm your skin.
Elevated Inflammation Response
When you are stressed, whether by relationship problems or any other issue you may be having, the body perceives that stress as a sign that it is under attack. Once the body feels that it is under attack, it can produce a heightened immune response in order to deal with any damage that may result during the perceived attack.
Unfortunately, all non-essential processes, such as digestion, slow down so that all the body’s energy can be devoted to dealing with the immediate threat. Consequently, food will take longer without being digested, and that will in turn cause the gastrointestinal system to become more acidic. That acidic environment favours the proliferation of bad gut bacteria, and that is how skin problems will start manifesting or flaring up as this bad bacteria makes its way to your skin. This may explain why many people tend to have more skin problems when they are stressed or in the immediate aftermath of a stressful period in their lives.
Your Skin Becomes Drier
The fight or flight mode into which your body descends can cause your sweat glands to go into overdrive as the body tries to cool you down at this time when your entire body is tensed up due to stress.
Because you are losing a lot of fluids while you sweat, your skin may become dehydrated, especially when you aren’t rehydrating to replace the water you are losing. The bad thing about stress is that it makes you neglect even the routine things, such as frequently taking water, which you have always done. This prolonged state of dehydration eventually causes your skin to look less supple, and then wrinkles or other signs that your skin is ageing will begin to show.
A Suppressed Immune System Results in Skin Problems
Chronic stress weakens your immune system because your body doesn’t have the resources that it needs to attend to other body functions other than enabling you to fight or run away from the threat that you are facing. It doesn’t matter whether this threat is real or imagined; the body treats all threats as the same.
As the immune system weakens, your body will no longer be able to deal with the bad microorganisms that your skin is exposed to.
The net result is that acne and other skin issues will manifest during or immediately after the stressful period that you have had.
Actually, there was research that was done on a group of female medical students and the researchers found that those ladies had more skin breakouts during examination time than at any other time during their semester. As you may know, preparing for and sitting exams is very stressful, and the suppression of the immune system during this time sets the stage for skin problems and other issues in the rest of the body.
The Skin Becomes Oilier
While it is possible for stress to make your skin drier (as explained earlier), it is also possible for the skin to become oilier as a result of stress. Stress alters your biochemical makeup, and the resultant stress hormones that are released can have the side effect of commanding the skin to produce more oil.
This overproduction of oil will not only block the pores on your skin, but it will also create favorable conditions that bacteria needs to thrive on your skin. Before long, you will see more acne breakouts and other skin problems if you don’t use a body care product that counters this excess production of subcutaneous oil.
Your Skin Heals Slowly
A functioning immune system is capable of quickly fixing any damage that the skin suffers. For example, the people who prefer waxing as a way of removing unwanted body hair heal quickly from the microscopic damage that their skin suffers during that process.
However, when you are suffering from chronic stress, your immunity is depressed and the healing process that would be a breeze drags on endlessly, and this can even create room for worse problems to develop in your body. This is because the skin, which is a barrier between the outside environment and the internal body systems, isn’t functioning fully due to the damage that it has sustained.
Your Harmful (to the skin) Actions Worsen
What do you do when you are stressed? Some people bite their nails, while others pull their hair. Some people keep moving their hands across their forehead as an unconscious reaction to stress while others vigorously scratch their scalp.
You can guess where all this is going. As you indulge in those actions that are harmful to your skin, you increase the likelihood that your skin will develop problems. For example, the people who unconsciously move their hands across their faces as a result of stress introduce all the bacteria on their hands to their faces. That bacteria will trigger acne breakouts and even fungal infections, in some extreme cases.
Since the immune system is already suppressed as a direct result of the stress you are experiencing, your unconscious actions in response to stress provide the final straw that overwhelms your skin’s defenses.
As you can see, the body is an integrated system. What happens in one part, such as your emotions, can have an effect on other parts, such as the skin and the digestive system. Stress isn’t called a silent killer for nothing. It destroys you from the inside, and by the time you notice it on the outside (such as on your skin), a lot has gone wrong. It is therefore important for you to equip your body with the nutrients and other necessities it requires to cope with stress so that the damage from this response isn’t grave upon your health and wellbeing.
Of course, we can correct many of the symptoms of stress displayed in your skin through our skin treatments, but it is important to also address the cause. Read more about the Regul8 Relax supplements that form part of our skin programs to address stress, cortisol and inflammation in the body.
For more information or to speak with one of our skin specialists, get in touch with our team today, in Wollongong or Shellharbour.