Skin Problems Due To Stress

The skin is the largest organ in the body and shows us its abnormalities with the naked eye. Therefore, stress skin problems are usually quite common.

Unlike other organs and systems, epithelial tissue is easy to analyze. We can examine it without the use of any device and detect the changes that occur in it in a simple way.

There is an embryological connection between the skin and the nervous system that is still present in adult life. The elevation of the so-called stress hormones cause a series of physiological changes, the result of which the skin does not turn out well, according to the United States National Library of Medicine.

Let’s go deeper.

The role of stress in skin problems

Woman stress state in bed.

Stress is a defense mechanism that the body has to ensure its survival. However, when it becomes chronic, it produces a series of effects that affect the whole body and cause skin problems, as suggested by this study by Dr. Chen :

  • Wrinkles
  • Flaccidity.
  • Stains.
  • Dull skin.
  • Loss of elasticity.

Skin problems caused by chronic stress have to do with blood circulation. In these situations, the body needs a quick response to implement fight, flight and paralysis strategies. To do this, under the command of cortisol, it redirects blood flow to the muscles, the heart, the lungs and the brain, and the great victim of this cut in the flow of blood, among others, is the skin.

Likewise, stress negatively affects the immune system and makes our skin more vulnerable to infections and external aggressions.

Diseases that cause skin problems due to stress

There is a group of dermatological diseases that have been directly related to stress. Among them, the most important are these that we are going to comment on below.

1. Acne

As already mentioned in the report of the National Library of Medicine of the United States, although hormonal factors are decisive for the appearance of acne, more and more importance is given to emotional factors.

2. Atopic dermatitis

Although it can be caused by environmental factors, dehydration, irritants, infections and even sweat, a part  of the cases is closely related to stress, according to this study carried out by a team from the University of Medical Sciences of Matanzas (Cuba).

There is a vicious circle between itching (itching) and scratching, which can become obsessive and cause the worsening of the dermatitis due to superinfection and the appearance of other more serious complications.


3. Seborrheic dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is a disease that has been directly related to episodes of stress. It appears in moments of great anxiety of the patients due to a change of job or address, wedding or divorce, illness or death of a relative, examinations, etc.

4. Excoriations

In this case, the patient scratches his skin compulsively, generating cycles of itching and scratching that can last for years.

It usually appears in young patients who, subjected to changes due to hormonal stress, can lead to serious injuries due to repeated scratching. This problem usually improves when psychological lability is treated, although it can last for many years due to delayed diagnosis and ineffective treatments.

5. Alopecia areata

It is the loss of hair in very specific areas of the scalp, in the form of small circles like coins. It has a genetic predisposition for the appearance of autoimmune factors, but a high influence of emotional factors has been shown, according to the Mayo Clinic.


6. Psoriasis

Psoriasis is characterized by the acceleration of the life cycle of cells, which die before their time. They accumulate on the surface of the skin forming scales and red spots, causing intense itching and even pain. It is a chronic, episodic disease. It can disappear for a time to reappear in more stressful circumstances than normal.

Psoriasis, stress skin problems

All the personality characteristics that make a subject susceptible to the influences of stress are also responsible for the appearance of psoriasis, so their relationship is very evident. Improving stress levels usually improves anxiety, even depression and, therefore, psoriasis flare-ups.

Seeing a psychologist can help

It is fair to mention that the appearance of psoriasis lesions produces social rejection. The patient feels stigmatized and tends to hide them, which is another great stress-generating factor that darkens the prognosis.

We have only seen a few examples where stress skin problems manifest themselves. It is convenient to properly manage this problem because, in addition to being able to cause depression, it weakens the immune system, becoming indirectly responsible for the worsening of the situation.

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