How does the skin respond to stress and what can we do about it to help?
The current Coronavirus pandemic is causing stress for everyone and our skin may be showing outward signs of increased and continued stress because of this situation. In this regard, Skin can end up being the visible window to the body and mind’s overall health .
What is the science behind the skin’s stress reactions?
There are scientific reasons why our skin reveals the result of sleepless nights, increased stress hormones and dehydration but the good news is that understanding these gives the key to mitigating the effect to help the complexion.
Decreased blood supply to the skin
Stress sends the body into survival mode and diverts blood away from the skin towards the vital internal organs like the heart, lungs, brain and kidneys. Decreased blood supply to the skin can leave you looking washed out and sallow looking.
The survival mode stress hormone cortisol puts the body on alert for fight or flight and it causes increased secretion of androgens. Androgens are sex hormones that increase oil production and sebum. When oil and sebum clog up the skin pores bacteria are trapped and acne spots more easily form.
Inflammation and sensitivity reactions.
When the body is stressed to often releases histamines which can cause irritation like itchiness, bumps, rashes and hives.
What are the solutions?
Exercise Exercise is a great stress reliever and increases the blood supply to the skin. It may be difficult to get going but afterwards it feels amazing.
Water Drinking enough water to stay hydrated and avoiding the dehydrating effects of alcohol and caffeine will help a lot and can reduce headaches and flush out toxins too.
Healthy Diet Omega-acids help to regulate hormones and, to mitigate the negative stress response, a diet rich in salads, pulses, nuts and fish oils is best. It is advisable to cut down on fatty food and eat healthily.
Skincare A great facial skincare routine to keep the skin hydrated and prevent outbreaks and inflammation is needed. Anti-oxidants are a key ingredient when the skin reacts to stress.
The ideal skin care starts with a pH balancing cleanser with exfoliating and pore unblocking actions. To follow this, use a serum rich in antioxidants and a moisturiser with high SPF and anti-inflammatory properties during the day. At night, repeat the cleaner and serum but then apply a repairing, exfoliating and balancing night creme.
Once it is safe and clinics are open, treat your stressed skin to a course of 6 professional resurfacing enzyme peels – once every 2 weeks – to set the skin to a healthy level and then maintain that with treatments every 4 to 6 weeks.