Stress can really take a toll on us, not only on our minds but on our bodies as well. Stressed individuals, of course, are more likely to suffer from problems such as heart disease and are more likely to be candidates for a stroke.
Doctors have known that for decades. But did you know that stress can manifest itself in ways that are more visible to the human eye?
For example, people who worry a lot tend to have skin that ages prematurely but are also more apt to suffer from chronic skin conditions than the person who is stress-free or experiences significantly less stress.
Why does stress cause skin problems?
There’s a simple scientific explanation as to why chronic worries affect your skin. When we feel threatened or stressed, a signal is sent to the portion of the brain known as the amygdala.
The amygdala regulates our emotions, and when it is triggered by a stress-filled message, it – in turn – triggers the hypothalamus, which produces the body’s hormones.
Hence, the stress hormone cortisol is then released into the body, prompting that “flight or fight” response we often feel when we’re in a panic.
So, someone who is constantly stressed has high levels of cortisol in her body and this cortisol will likely have a negative impact on her skin.
The dangers of high cortisol levels
An article in the May 2016 edition of Aesthetics notes that, in experiments with mice, the animals that were exposed to rotational stress for 28 days and, hence, developed high levels of cortisol, experienced the formation of wrinkles at a higher level than those not exposed to stressful situations.
In addition, cortisol causes blood sugar levels to increase and, hence, stressed individuals become not only more prone to develop diseases like diabetes but are also more likely to experience skin issues, including inflammation.
The glycation caused by the increased blood sugar levels also has a negative effect on elastin and collagen, which serve to keep the skin looking young. When these two proteins are adversely affected, skin looks older before its time.
Stress effects your skin producing high cortisol levels and causing the skin to dry out because cortisol decreases the production of hyaluronic acid.
This acid helps the skin absorb water and keeps it plump. Again, dried skin will age more quickly and will certainly appear older.
In addition, when someone is consistently experiencing that aforementioned “fight or flight” response, blood is drawn towards major muscle groups and away from other important systems like the immune and digestive systems.
When the digestive system functions at a less-than-optimal level, pesky skin conditions such as acne and eczema can become worse. In addition, skin takes on a dull appearance.
When the immune system is weakened, itchiness can set in, which is especially bad news for those who already suffer from chronic skin conditions.
Can skin treatments help?
Ideally, the best solutions for the problems described above is a reduction in the stress level. That’s something that must be tackled by the individual, either through medication, counseling, or by some other means.
Aestheticians can help the patient achieve more self-confidence and a better overall look by recommending treatments that help the stressed patient maintain more youthful-looking skin.
Furthermore, pampering skin treatments often help to relieve just a bit of stress and the opportunity to look good often puts a smile on the patient’s face.
Want to look and feel better? Ask your aesthetician what treatments can help YOU reduce the aging effects of stress.