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  5. How To Reverse Effects Of Stress On Your Skin?

Is your work-life stress affecting your skin health? Lack-lustrous, dry, wrinkle-prone skin can be a direct result of prolonged psychological stress.

The best way to reverse such detrimental effects is to resort to an Ayurveda recommended diet, skincare and lifestyle. Read on to know more about the effects of stress on your skin and the best ways to combat it.

Our Ayurvedic Doctor Speaks

“Mental, emotional and physical stress deeply affects the digestive processes of the body. Rasa dhatu, which is the essence of digestion, nurtures the skin and maintains immunity. Stress can severely alter Rasa dhatu which affects skin’s health and overall immunity.”

Dr. Zeel Gandhi (Bachelor Of Ayurveda, Medicine & Surgery), Chief Ayurvedic Doctor, Vedix

How Is Stress Connected With Skin?

According to experts, high levels of stress prompts your adrenal glands to release various hormones including cortisol and adrenaline. An increase in cortisol can lead to the stimulation of certain pro-inflammatory factors in the body that can trigger skin inflammation and allergic reactions.

Prolonged periods of depression and anxiety can lead to immune dysfunction, skin barrier impairment, excess melanogenesis leading to hyperpigmentation and a rise in reactive oxygen species that causes cell damage.

How Stress Affects Your Skin?

Stress forces your body to go through a number of physiological and hormonal changes to allow it to aptly respond and adapt to stress. Prolonged stress is likely to have the following manifestations on your skin:

  • Wrinkles and stress lines on the forehead
  • Dry, dull and dehydrated skin
  • Stress pimples on the face
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Skin barrier impairment
  • Inhibits cell regeneration
  • Inflammation, redness and rashes [1]

“Mind, body and soul are deeply connected. Stress at any of these levels can create an imbalance at all the three levels of our existence. Mental, emotional and physical stress deeply affects the digestive processes of the body. Rasa dhatu which is the essence of digestion nurtures the skin and maintains the immunity. Stress can severely alter Rasa dhatu which affects skin’s health and overall immunity,” says Dr. Zeel.

Stress slows down wound healing. Epinephrine or adrenaline released during stress, impairs fibroblast function and affects collagen production, both of which are necessary for the healing of skin injuries.

1. Hives

mans body suffering severe

Hives or urticaria is an allergic skin condition causing red, itchy bumps of varying sizes. Apart from the known allergens like certain foods or drugs, psychological stress plays a major factor that can trigger this condition. Hives usually heal on their own once the causing factor is removed.

2. Rosacea

Facial erythema characterizes this skin condition. One may also experience small purulent bumps and visible blood vessels in the affected areas. Many factors such as immune dysfunction, environmental changes, genetics and stress are suspected to be causative or trigger factors for rosacea [2].

3. Psoriasis

Stress may not cause psoriasis, but has been shown to be a primary trigger factor [3]. Acute stress leads to the proliferation and stimulation of mast cells that release various inflammatory mediators. This leads to the formation of inflamed, red, scaly, rash-like lesions on the skin. With no known cure till date, psoriasis can be managed with long-term herbal and medical treatments.

4. Eczema

eczema on hand

Eczema [4] or atopic dermatitis leads to extreme dry, flaky skin accompanied by a red itchy rash. Affected areas are usually behind the knees and hands. It occurs when your immune system reacts to an allergen resulting in skin inflammation. With stress provoking inflammation in the body, eczema flare-ups can be worse during periods of stress and anxiety.

5. Dehydration

Long term stress can cause the release of various chemicals in your body that incapacitate your skin’s immunity. With the epidermal barrier compromised your skin is unable to retain necessary moisture leading to dehydration and is also left vulnerable to environmental damages.

6. Acne Vulgaris

acne-skin-disorders-sebaceous-glands

Acne or pimples occur when your skin produces excess oil. This oil clogs up your skin pores leading to comedonal acne (whiteheads and blackheads). When naturally existing bacteria on your skin gets trapped in these blocked pores it causes infection and inflammation leading to inflamed acne conditions such as pustules, papules and nodules.

Chronic stress in the body can cause a rise in cortisol (stress hormone) levels which in turn influences the sebaceous glands into producing more sebum leading to stress pimples on the face.

7. Premature Skin Aging

Chronic psychological stress activates various systems in the body that stimulate the immune system and cause a continuous state of inflammation [5]. An extension of such a state in your body can lead to immune impairment, a rise in the number of free radicals and DNA damage [6].

All these changes greatly affect your skin health thus accelerating skin aging and causing the appearance of wrinkles and stress marks on the face.

8. Skin Pigmentation

The colour of your skin is determined by the distribution of melanocytes in your body and the amount of melanin produced. Though melanogenesis in humans is mainly genetic, it can also be influenced by environmental factors, endocrine disorders and psychological stress conditions.

According to a 1991 study, stress caused a rise in the secretion of the alpha- stimulating hormone. Thus, exhibiting a link between stress and increased skin pigmentation.

9. Vitiligo

Vitiligo is caused when a hyperactive immune system attacks healthy melanocytes perceiving them as a threat. This leads to loss of pigmentation in various parts of the body. Stress in vitiligo patients can worsen the condition [7] as it causes various changes in the body’s hormonal balance.

10. Lichen Planus

A psychosomatic disease where the skin cells and cells of the mucous membranes are attacked by the immune system. Lichen planus [8] causes purple, inflamed, pruritic lesions on the skin. Psychological stress and depression is shown to be a contributing factor in the development of this condition.

11. Chronic Pruritus

Chronic pruritus or itchy skin can occur if your body is undergoing long periods of stress, anxiety and depression. Stress causes inflammation and prompts the immune system into triggering a rash like skin condition. In other cases stress can exacerbate an existing pruritus condition [9].

12. Prurigo Nodularis

case prurigo nodularis male

A rare chronic inflammatory disease that causes a severe itchy, painful rash on the body, especially affecting the arms, back, abdomen and legs. Constant scratching aggravates the condition and leads to further thickening of the lesions. According to research, psychogenic pruritus or the constant need to scratch due to stress or depression is recognised as a psychiatric cause of the disease.

13. Cushing's Syndrome

High levels of cortisol hormone in the body can lead to Cushing’s syndrome. Along with other causes such as use of steroids, high stress levels can cause your adrenal glands to release excess cortisol. Skin manifestations of the condition include appearance of stretch marks, pigmentation and skin thinning.

How To Reverse The Effects Of Stress On Skin?

1. Consume A Wholesome Diet

You must include anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients such as vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids, zinc and magnesium in your daily diet. Using garlic, onion, turmeric and ginger to prepare your dishes can also help reduce inflammation in the body.

2. Maintain Healthy Work Balance

Don’t let your work stress spill over to your personal time. Plan ahead of time to reduce unnecessary stress.

3. Exercise Daily

Regular breathing exercises, aerobic exercises and cardio are great stress-relievers. According to studies on reducing stress with exercise, such exercises help reduce excess cortisol and adrenaline hormones. Further, it aids the generation of endorphins that help combat depression.

4. Yoga

young woman working out indoors

Yoga aims to use the body and mind to correctly channelize your energy, reduce stress, increase oxygen supply and enhance blood circulation in the body. The following yoga asanas can be practiced to reduce psychological stress:

  • Balasana
  • Uttanasana
  • Janu Sirsasana
  • Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

5. Get Optimum Sleep

Nothing beats a good sleep when you want to reduce your stress levels. Maintaining a healthy sleep routine helps your body to repair and rejuvenate. Proper sleep also aids the digestive system which helps your body better utilize the nutrition derived from your food.

6. Keep Yourself Hydrated

Meeting your daily water requirement can help reduce the side effects of stress on your skin. Adequate water not only flushes out toxins from the body but also reduces your cortisol levels.

7. Ayurvedic Treatments

ayurveda massage

The ancient science of Ayurveda uses the therapeutic properties of medical herbs and oil to de-stress the body, remove unwanted Ama toxins and restore balance of your Doshas. The following Ayurvedic treatments can be availed to reduce the effects of stress on your skin:

  • Shirodhara (pouring of medicated oils on the forehead)
  • Abhyanga (herbal oil massage)
  • Swedana (steam therapy)
  • Panchakarma (detoxification through 5 Ayurvedic procedures)

8. Proper Skincare Routine

A good Dosha-balancing skin care routine can help combat the effects of stress on your face. Consult your Ayurvedic doctor to know your skin type. This will help you select the right herbs to enhance your skin health.

9. Indulge In A Hobby

Diversion is a great way to reduce unwanted stress. Begin a new hobby or indulge in something that you are passionate about such as dance, music etc. Pets are also great stress busters. Playing with your dog or cat is a well recommended therapy for depression.

10. Avoid Smoking And Alcohol

Smoking and alcohol consumption during periods of stress only worsens its side effects on your skin. Consult your therapist to know better ways of combating stress than resorting to these habits.

Vedix Tip: Consuming herbs like brahmi, ashwagandha and manjistha can help balance cortisol levels, detoxify your blood and reduce effects of stress on the body.

When To Consult A Dermatologist?

Short term or minor side effects of stress on the skin can be managed with herbal remedies and a change in lifestyle. However, if you notice recurrent symptoms such as a chronic skin allergy or frequent flare-ups of eczema/ psoriasis or a skin rash that doesn’t heal with home remedies, it is better to seek your dermatologist’s advice.

The Last Word

The side effects of stress on your skin is an extensively researched topic. This is why great importance is given to mental health as it affects your body’s overall well being. Apart from leading a well balanced lifestyle, a good skin care routine can support skin health and prevent degeneration of your skin cells. Early prevention of stress signs on your skin can help you slow down skin aging and avoid aggravated conditions.

Know Your Dosha Now

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