Our mind and skin are very much connected. This is now being referred to as Psychodermatogy. Psychological stressors such as chronic depression, stress, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have been known to increase flare ups of acne, rosacea, psoriasis, hives, eczema and vitiligo (depigmented white spots on the skin).
According to Shelley Sekula-Gibbs (MD Professor of Dermatology), studies show that “at least 30% of all dermatology patients have some underlying psychological problem that often goes unaddressed”.
Constant stress increases the production of our stress hormone ‘cortisol’. This then triggers inflammation and can also throw off other hormones in our body. Increased inflammation is not good news for inflammatory skin disorders.
Stress can also disrupt the balance between the good and bad bacteria in our gut. As we know, our gut health can also cause havoc with our skin. See Gut Article
When cortisol levels backfire, it can lead to over activity of oil glands in our skin. The sebaceous glands on the face and neck produce excess sebum, and our pores are more likely to become blocked. Bacteria loves to harvest in these blocked pores, which causes pimples.
Anxiety & other Psychological Conditions can also make it harder to sleep. Studies have shown that sleeplessness seems to have an effect on our skin’s ability to heal. This can then negatively effect skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, acne etc.
What else we know about Stress (and other Negative Emotions)
- When we are anxious or stressed, it becomes much harder to ignore negative sensations, like itching caused by eczema and psoriasis.
- For psoriasis sufferers – the immune system really over-responds to stress hormones— which can lead to major flare-ups.
- Stress hormones also trigger our body’s “fight or flight” response. Blood, oxygen and nutrients are directed to vital areas such as our muscles so that they are ready for action. This means that our non-vital areas such as our SKIN miss out.
- Cortisol inhibits our bodies repair and healing process. This is not ideal for flare-ups of any inflammatory skin conditions.
The Viscous Cycle
Flare-ups of Skin Conditions such as acne and psoriasis can then cause a person to experience more stress, continuing the cycle.
What Can Help
Finding ways to cope with underlying psychological issues (such as stress) can have a very positive impact on improving skin conditions.
- hypnosis is an option for some people
- Get more sleep
- deep breathing exercises
- seek help from a professional
- some people fin essential oils useful
A Great Read
‘first, we make the beast beautiful’ by Sarah Wilson
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