5 Ways Stress Affects Your Skin

5 Ways Stress Affects Your Skin

Life is stressful. From juggling home and work obligations, maintaining family bonds and social relationships, and trying to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle, there’s no end to the different ways stress can impact our lives. But is it affecting your skin’s health?

If you’re like millions of Americans struggling to manage daily stress, the answer is likely yes – and in unanticipated ways. This April is Stress Awareness Month we are breaking down how stress affects your skin. 

#1: Stress = Wrinkles

The connection between stress and the formation of fine lines and wrinkles probably isn’t new to you. High levels of stress hormones can accelerate the aging process, including causing premature aging in your skin. A 2023 study found that your biological age fluctuates based on stress levels, and severe stress can cause increases in biological age that reverse upon recovery. 

What does this mean for your skin? As your skin ages, it naturally produces less collagen – the protein responsible for your skin’s elasticity and resilience. Stress speeds up that process, causing fine lines and wrinkles to form and deepen more quickly. 

#2: Acne Breakouts

Most adults likely believe their days of dealing with acne and breakouts are behind them once they’ve graduated high school, but this often isn’t the case. Stress triggers your body to produce cortisol, the primary stress hormone that can cause significant damage when sustained at elevated levels.

This includes damaging your skin by increasing oil production and clogging pores. Stress-induced acne can be challenging to treat on your own because the underlying cause often remains in place. If you’re noticing more frequent breakouts that don’t seem to go away, it could be a sign to check in with yourself and practice stress-relieving self-care.

#3: Stress Triggers Flare-Ups

If you’re living with a chronic skin condition like eczema or psoriasis, you already know that stress can be a trigger for flare-ups. Stress is one of the most common causes of symptoms like rashes or rough and dry patches of skin. This can create a vicious cycle of more stress and worsening symptoms, so managing your stress levels is important. 

It’s also not uncommon for people who develop psoriasis or eczema symptoms in adulthood to report high levels of stress. So, even if you don’t have a current diagnosis of either condition, managing your stress can help prevent it.

#4: Dull, Dry Skin? It Could Be Stress

Not having acne breakouts or eczema flare-ups doesn’t mean stress isn’t affecting your skin. If your skin is drier and duller than usual, that could also be a sign of stress-related skin troubles.

Stress hormones can interfere with your skin’s natural barrier, affecting moisture retention. This leaves your skin vulnerable to damage caused by dehydration – another risk factor associated with stress and poor self-care. It can also slow your skin’s regenerative cycle, meaning older skin cells can build up and leave your skin looking dry and dull. 

#5: Stress-Related Hair Loss and Thinning

Your skin and hair’s health are often directly related. The same stress that causes premature aging in the skin can also lead to thinning, graying hair, or balding. 

Stress may cause hair follicles to go dormant and stop new hair growth. Dormant follicles then release the existing strand without growing a new one. Severe stress may cause hair to come out in clumps or patches, a form of stress-triggered alopecia areata.

Finding Treatment for Your Stressed Skin

If any of the above symptoms sound familiar and you’re concerned about how stress affects your skin, help is available. Dr. Brian P. Mekelburg has over 30 years of experience treating various conditions affecting the hair, skin, and nails. His compassionate, patient-centered approach to care means he takes the time to learn about you and your concerns. Dr. Mekelburg doesn’t just treat surface-level symptoms; he gets to the source for lasting relief.

Schedule your consultation with Dr. Mekelburg today to get started.

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