De-stress, Your Skin Will Thank You

Last week I received an email from Annie S. She's under a lot of pressure at work and, with the holidays approaching was curious what, if any, affect stress has on our skin. Well, Annie, there's good news and some not-so-good news:

Whether you're stressed about the holidays, your finances, your job, a family member's health, or tricky homework, stress has a sneaky way of showing up on your face and skin. Think of it as your body's way of communicating what's going on inside to the outside world. There's even a name for it: psychodermatology.

For instance, studies find that stress triggers 62 percent of psoriasis episodes (an inflammatory skin condition), with flares occurring within days of the emotional upset. Most hyperhidrosis episodes (in which you sweat excessively) are related to stress, and 94 percent of episodes in women with rosacea - a skin condition marked by excessive redness and bumps on the face- have an emotional trigger.

Thus, you can see the very strong mind/body connection that exists between our emotions and our skin health. The connection is probably related to the immune system and the way it reacts to stress. Short bursts of stress - like those from a good workout - can improve your skin. But, when you're exposed to chronic stress - stress that just won't stop - or a lot of stress all at once, your immune system can get overloaded. The result? Negative effects on your skin.

I know it's easier said than done, but try to recognize the stressors in your life and modify your reactions to them. Relaxation techniques, biofeedback and breathing training can help you cope better with life stresses and reduce their affects on your skin.

Unsure where to start? Visit our Managing Stress section.

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