It’s True – Stress Affects Your Skin
How we look on the outside reflects how we feel on the inside. That is, our emotional well-being can have an impact on our appearance, particularly the health of our skin, hair and nails. When we are subjected to overwhelming stress, our bodies react internally causing visible signs on our external body. Dr. Goodman at Goodman Dermatology provides dermatologic skin care for patients in Alpharetta, Roswell, Johns Creek and surrounding North Fulton communities and can help you reduce the impact of stress on your skin.
The Stress Cycle and Your Skin, Hair and Nails
Stress triggers the production and release of a hormone called cortisol and causes skin to produce more oil (sebum), leading to breakouts. Elevated levels of cortisol can lead to collagen breakdown, which makes it harder for skin to repair itself naturally, continue to form healthy collagen and elastin, and deal with damage. The result – wrinkles. Stress can also cause skin to have a diminished protective function against germs, making it easy for bacteria and other particles to breach the skin and cause conditions including: dermatitis; psoriasis; eczema; rosacea; hives; or skin rashes. This cycle continues, which in turn causes individuals another source of stress – now they are self-conscious about their appearance. In addition, people may scratch their skin excessively in an attempt to alleviate itching associated with many types of dermatitis, which can break the surface of the skin and allow more harmful bacteria to enter the body. This vicious cycle can prove difficult to break.
Many people also have stress related problems with their nail and nails, as stress may trigger the body’s autoimmune response system. Some people unconsciously play with their hair which causes tension at the follicle. As well, stress may play a role in flipping the switch on the hair follicle’s growth stage from an active to a resting phase. Once the follicle enters this resting phase prematurely, it tends to stay at rest for about three months. With either, patches of thinning hair or more significant hair loss can result over time. There are also individuals who “pick” the cuticles around their nails when under a great deal of stress – this is called Habit Tic Deformity. If not stopped early permanent damage can result causing the nail matrix to form ridges or grow crooked.
Ways to Alleviate Stress
The solution for all of these issues is to alleviate stress in our daily lives and learn how to cope under pressure. Here are suggestions to make sure stress doesn’t get the better of you and your skin:
♦ Recognize when you start to feel overwhelmed and immediately take steps to alleviate the negative emotions before they take hold.
♦ Exercise for at least thirty minutes, three to four times a week – exercise is a stress-buster, helping reduce cortisol levels and increase the level of the ‘feel-good’ hormone, serotonin.
♦ Eat a healthy, balanced diet which contains all the food groups – reaching for sugary, fatty foods may make you feel better temporarily but, in the long term, you aren’t doing your skin any favors.
♦ Take time out and schedule regular downtime just as you would work meetings, and don’t skip these sessions!
♦ If a certain situation (an unhappy relationship or work environment) is stressing you out, change it!
♦ Delegate when possible.
♦ See Dr. Goodman, your favorite Alpharetta dermatologist, for advice on what medical treatments exist to improve the condition of your skin. This might include: laser treatments or peels to reduce the appearance of wrinkles or acne scarring; prescription topical and/or oral medications for acne, rosacea, dermititis and rashes, eczema; psoriasis; or hives.
♦ See a therapist to talk through unresolved issues and to get help on how to manage stressful scenarios.
Treatments for Acne
Adult acne may be very frustrating to deal with when one is already under stress. When such breakouts occur, Dr. Goodman may recommend a topical or oral acne medication, such as:
♦ Sulfur and/or Salicylic Acid: break down blackheads and whiteheads;
♦ Topical Retinoids: (Differin, Epiduo, Retin A Micro, Tazorac, tretinoin, or Ziana) to unclog swollen pores, which may be used alone for mild acne or combined with other medications for moderate to severe acne. Retinoids may be recommended for long-term use, even after the acne is under control, to keep the skin clear and reduce the appearance of visible wrinkles. or to reduce the scaling of psoriasis.
♦ Topical Antibiotics: Dr. Goodman may also prescribe antibiotics that are applied to the skin, such as clindamycin (Clindagel) and erythromycin, kill the P. acnes bacteria that leads to inflammation.
♦ Oral Treatments for Acne. Oral medications which include tetracycline, doxycycline (Adoxa, Doryx), and minocycline (Dynacin, Solodyn), act systemically to reach bacteria in the deep layers of the dermis. They are also used for their anti-inflammatory effects.
Cosmetic Dermatology Options for Stress Induced Wrinkles, and Dull, Lackluster Skin
Cosmetic dermatology tools for some of these stress related premature aging concerns include Laser Skin Resurfacing; Botox, Xeomin and dermal filler wrinkle-smoothing treatments by injection; and Chemical Peels.
Dr. Goodman serves patients in the north Atlanta area including Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Sandy Springs, North Fulton, Cumming, Forsyth, Marietta, Dunwoody, Atlanta, Milton, Woodstock, Canton, Norcross, and Roswell. Don’t wait – find ways to relieve and reduce stress for clearer skin and if you have developed acne, signs of premature aging, or another skin inflammation or condition, schedule an appointment to begin your treatment today!