Last Reviewed on March 9, 2021 by Alice Pien, MD & Asher Milgrom, PhD
Did you know that the effects of stress on the body can cause a variety of beauty problems and skin conditions? Read on to find out how chronic stress can affect your skin and what you can do to stop it.
The Effects of Stress on The Body
There are many effects that stress can have on the body. Here are a few that in our opinion are the most significant.
Hormonal Mood Swings
There is a lot of interaction between hormone physiology and mood that works both ways. Our mood can impact our physiology, and our physiology can influence the balance of our hormones.
If stress can sit at the top of a cascade of events that lead to undesirable hormonal changes in the body (like those that trigger insomnia, insatiable hunger and weight gain, and collagen breakdown), then what we want to do is find ways to gain the upper hand on our stress level and ensure that we keep all those hormones in check.
The jury is still out on exactly how or if this is possible, but it appears that the constant flow of cortisol that goes along with chronic stress causes a dip in estrogen, one that mimics, on a smaller scale, the dip that occurs during menopause.
Less estrogen means less collagen and less moisture. So, while estrogen levels may not drop enough to shut down your period, stress may make them dip enough to make your skin look dull and dry.
Hair loss due to stress is not so uncommon.
Stress can cause sudden hair loss by literally 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 stays there for about three months, after which time a large amount of hair will be lost.
When you experience an overall loss of hair, you must cast back a few months to find the trigger. Was the hair loss due to stress?
Rest assured that in most women, hair loss due to stress will grow back in the future.
The Effects of Stress on the Skin
Stress is one of the leading causes of premature aging. The effects that stress has on the skin can be significant.
When you live in a chronic state of stress, you are constantly producing the hormone cortisol, this can have a significant effect on your skin.
Cortisol is responsible for weight gain, high blood pressure and collagen breakdown, among other things. This makes it harder for the skin to repair itself naturally, continue to form healthy collagen and elastin, and deal with damage.
Acne isn’t just for hormonally crazed teenagers. Many adults can’t seem to outgrow the acne outbreaks because of stress hormones.
What makes the onset of stress induced acne worse is that tense people often can’t leave pimples alone. Squeezing, poking and picking at them becomes an almost obsessive way to release tension, but it also makes acne breakouts worse, exacerbating the inflammatory response, and you’re left feeling a bit more stressed.
So no picking!
Irritation and Allergies
Your skin has mast cells, which release histamines in response to biochemicals like stress hormones.
Histamines are key players in allergies and inflammations; they can trigger ailments like hay fever and asthma, and they can wreak havoc on skin disorders and disease.
Once triggered, mast cells can stir up a soup of chemical pests, which can set off a range of skin conditions or simply aggravate existing ones, from dermatitis and hives to psoriasis.
Puffy, Tired Eyes
Stress affects and ages eyes by robbing us of the deep, restorative sleep that’s essential to the youth and health of our whole body.
Getting too little shuteye sets off a series of skin problems – inflammation, broken capillaries, and poor waste removal. Fluids that should be carted away while you sleep never get picked up.
In your face, the excess liquid has to go somewhere, so it pools in the delicate tissue under the eyes.
The effects of stress on the eyes? Dark, puffy, under-eye circles.
What Can You Do About All This Stress?
First, don’t feel overwhelmed. Don’t stress yourself out even more!
You may be feeling like you can’t get control of your body because so much of what goes on happens naturally. But hopefully, once you begin to establish better coping skills for handling stress, and begin to employ these techniques to nourish and treat your body optimally both inside and out, you will discover a path to wellness and beauty.
You can shift the balance of power into your hands and support a healthy balance in your body simply by changing the way you strategize through life.
About the Authors
Doctors Alice Pien, MD and Asher Milgrom, Phd are established pioneers in the fields of Regenerative Medicine and Skincare. Their expertise ranges from advanced laser systems to HCT/P – Stem Cell medicine. Their medical education and advanced certifications span from medical schools of NY State University, the University of Chicago, to Johns Hopkins, Harvard and UCLA. They approach medicine with the clinical expertise of over 85,000 successful treatments over the past 20 years and significant scientific research resulting in proprietary protocols that they customize for each individual patient.