impact of stress on skin

The impact of stress on our skin

We hear daily that living in the 21st century is exposing us to constant and increasing levels of stress, which is impacting negatively on our health and wellbeing. Stress is defined as a “state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances”.


Exposure to both physical and psychological stress initiates a range of temporary and longterm physical responses, causing instability in our body and stimulates our nervous, endocrine, and immune systems. In addition, a number of medical studies have linked stress to an increase in problems with our skin.


Not all stress is bad. In fact, stress is a useful stimulus, which triggers our fight-or-flight response enabling our brain to quickly process information and therefore deal with life threatening situations.


However, stress also increases cortisol levels, which results in an imbalance of white blood T-cells, one of our bodies most important immune defenses. This leaves our body vulnerable to infection and disease and explains why we often more susceptible to getting sick after a period of stress.


Stress has also been identified as having a detrimental effect on our skin, making it more sensitive and reactive. Stress can also:


  • Can enhance psoriasis, seborrhoeic dermatitis or rosacea conditions.
  • Cause acne and make the condition become more inflamed and impact healing time.
  • Impair our natural skin barrier function, leaving our skin more open to bacteria and fungal infections.
  • Can cause dehydration.
  • Anxiety associated with stress may reduce our motivation to adhere to their skin care regime or increase stress-related behaviours such as scratching, pulling or rubbing our skin, which can make problems worse.
  • Stress is also known to cause brittle nails and ridging of the nails, hair loss and excessive perspiration.

Reducing stress will decrease the release of the pro-inflammatory stress hormones, resulting in skin which looks, feels and functions better. Well accepted strategies for dealing with stress include avoidance of unnecessary stress, altering the situation, adapting to the stressor, accepting the things you can’t change, making time for fun and relaxation and adopting a healthy lifestyle.


  • Nurture yourself, book a massage, facial or pedicure.
  • Develop a good work/life balance.
  • Go for a walk and spend time with nature.
  • Call a dear friend.
  • Sweat out tension with a good workout.
  • Light scented candles and take a bath.
  • Work in your garden.
  • Curl up with a good book.
  • Listen to music.
  • Watch a comedy.

If you have been under a great deal of stress and your skin has changed, call us. Whether its time away from your busy day or a skin care regime, we may just have a solution for you.

At IM Skin Health we would love to show you what our range of clinical services can do for you!
If you have questions, please feel free to call 0414 540 054


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