Everyone experiences stress at some point, yet with the increased strain COVID-19 has had on our lives, people are experiencing it more than ever. Research shows that stress leads to an elevation in cortisol and catecholamines, which are responsible for our fight-or-flight response to different situations. These hormones cause an increase in inflammation in your body and cause your skin to overproduce oil, which can clog pores and lead to acne breakouts.
What are the signs?
You have probably experienced more acne breakouts when stressed. Individuals with psoriasis, eczema and rosacea also experience flare-ups as a response. The principle is the same with hormones and neuropeptides released from free nerve endings in our skin, which cause increased inflammation. This response pulls more pro-inflammatory immune cells to the skin, which respond to cortisol and contribute to worsening of pre-existing skin conditions.
Stress has also been linked to issues with your hair. One type of diffuse hair loss – telogen effluvium – can be triggered by stress and pauses the growth phase of your hair follicles causing your hair to shed. Also, new studies show that stress really does give us gray hairs. The same stress hormones target the pigment-producing cells in our hair follicles and cause graying.
Tips to relieve stress
Since we know that stress is directly linked to the quality of our skin and hair, what are some things you can do reduce it and maintain the health of your skin and hair?
- Get good quality sleep for seven to nine hours.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle by exercising and eating well.
- Be diligent with your skincare regimen.
- Try meditation and deep breathing exercises.
- Take time to do the things you enjoy!
See a dermatologist
If you notice anything suspicious on your skin or want to schedule a skin cancer screening, talk to a board-certified dermatologist.