1. What role does stress play in skin conditions?
Stress can affect the body in multiple ways. It can affect all our organs, and the skin is the largest organ. Stress can often suppress your immune system and because of that it can lead to different changes in your skin. In addition, stress can cause different hormones and chemicals in your body to be released, like cortisol or adrenaline and those types of things can also affect the skin.
2. Can you explain the mental process of stress and our bodies?
Your mind and body go along hand in hand with one another. When you have mental stress and mental anxiety, things like that, then that can manifest in different ways in your body and your skin as well. If there’s any mental…instability or stress levels are high, that can show itself physically as well.
3. What kind of skin conditions can arise from stress?
Some of the more common things we see is often acne…because acne can be worsened by higher cortisol levels. And that is one of the hormones that can be increased when people are more stressed. In addition to that, psoriasis can often flare up with additional stress. Eczema is another one. And hives is another thing that people often correlate flaring up with stress. Cold sores are often triggered by stressful situations and events. There are a lot of skin conditions where people have a tendency to pick at their skin. Conditions like Prurigo Nodularis (a skin disease that causes hard, itchy lumps to form on skin) or Lichen simplex chronicus (a skin disease that causes thick, scaly and dry patches of skin to form). And so those conditions also worsen when people are stressed because often, they continue to pick at their skin as a way to relieve that stress.
4. What do you recommended for people experiencing skin conditions that think it may be related to stress?
The most important thing is trying to control the stress level, because if you know that’s exacerbating your skin condition, then controlling that will actually help your skin as well.
5. Do you have any tips on reducing stress?
I think it’s really important that people kind of focus on, mind, body, soul, and that whole part of themselves. There are a lot of different things people can do. I think exercising regularly can help with stress level, taking time to do things for yourself, things that you enjoy. Even if it’s just for few minutes a day…yoga or meditation, trying to get enough sleep. The average person needs about seven to eight hours of sleep. Also, knowing what your limitations are. Being able to say no, if you’re not able to do everything that you’re asked to is completely fine.
6. What else do patients need to aware of regarding stress and skin conditions?
I think one of the biggest things, and I see this a lot with patients that come in to see us, is making sure that patients understand that stress is not what caused your skin condition. But it is something that can exacerbate it or flare it up. I think that’s a very important distinction, because often, people will try to just blame it on stress. For all the skin conditions. I’ve mentioned, there’s an underlying reason for it. Stress can just be an exacerbating factor, not the main trigger.