To get to the bottom of this stressful question, we chatted with the experts to see if stress actually can affect the state of your skin.
So, What’s the Deal?
In a quick word, yes. Stress can manifest itself in the form of several skin issues. According to Dr. Yael Halaas, a facial plastic surgeon in New York City, your body releases the hormone cortisol when you’re stressed or anxious. “Cortisol prepares the body for a fight or flight response,” Dr. Halaas explains. “This means your body is going on overdrive producing more glucose and narrowing arteries.” So what does this mean for your skin? Well, it’s this production of cortisol that leads to an overall tired appearance, dehydrated skin, baggy eyes, a prominence of fine lines and wrinkles, and inflammation (i.e. breakouts).
But it’s not just emotional or mental stress that can cause skin concerns. Physical stress on the body can also affect your skin. Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, Founder and Director of Capital Laser & Skin Care and Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Dermatology at the George Washington University Medical Center, explains that physical stressors come in many forms, such as too much sun exposure, overly drying products, extreme weather conditions, and even too much exfoliation. As expected, the effects of physical stress on the body can have unsavory results on the skin.
Although both emotional and physical stress can cause inflammation and puffiness, they can also have some less common results, such as excessive perspiration (that can lead to clogged pores and, guess what, more pimples!) and stress rashes. “Stress can also be the cause of hives and other types of skin rashes,” Dr. Halaas says. “Additionally, emotional stress can prompt a flare-up of fever blisters on some people.”
Yes, You Can Treat It
Before you start to get all panicky and Google yourself into a stress-induced pimple, stress-induced skin woes can be treated fairly easily.