#1 Stress Triggers Skin Inflammation
There is a powerful and very deep connection between your mind, your skin, and your gut. This is why your gut health can affect your mental health, and why diet and nutrition are so important for ensuring healthy skin and managing mental health issues.
When your mind perceives a stressful situation or feeling your digestion slows in your gut. Over time, this has a big impact on the bacteria living within your gut.
In fact, recent studies have shown that experiencing high levels of stress has the same effect on your gut bacteria as a high-fat diet.
When your digestion slows it enables unhealthy bacteria stairs in your gut to overproduce and grow, disrupting the natural balance of your gut microbes, and causing something called dysbiosis. This state changes the lining of your gut so that it becomes more permeable, or ‘leaky’, causing a cascade of body-wide inflammation.
All that inflammation is felt keenly by your skin – which again, is the largest organ you have – and leads to breakouts of acne and flare-ups of eczema and psoriasis.
Essentially, the sensation of stress is interpreted by your body as an attack, and it responds by triggering your inflammatory cells and markers to respond to the perceived threat. If you’re predisposed to any skin conditions, the increased number of inflammatory cells will trigger major flare-ups.
#2 Stress Will Dry Out Your Skin
When your body feels stress, it causes your fight-or-flight response to kick in. This isn’t a conscious choice, but a primal instinct developed by evolution. When something poses a threat, we either need to fight it off or flee in order to remain safe.
The problem with the fight or flight response is that it didn’t evolve for the modern world. Stress used to mean a fire, an attacker, or a wild animal. Now it’s associated with almost every aspect of life to some degree – everything just got that much faster, than much louder, and that much more complex.
Now, our fight-or-flight response doesn’t just kick in to help us fight off a mugger, or run from a bear. It can kick in any time, anywhere, and whenever it does it causes a spike in your cortisol and adrenaline levels.
This means you’re sweating more, as all that adrenaline activates your eccrine glands – these are your sweat glands – and the result is that you quickly become dehydrated as you’re rapidly losing water. The logic behind this is that, if you did need to run from a bear, you’d need to cool your body down while you were exerting yourself.
But since you’re not exerting yourself, or thinking about it at all, you don’t really notice it’s happening. If you’re not replenishing the water in your body while this is happening you’re very quickly going to dry out.
Even if you’re not prone to dry skin if this goes on for any amount of time your skin will dry out.
#3 Existing Conditions Are Triggered And Worsened By Stress Hormones
Stress also has a direct effect on your immune system, which releases hormones into your system. These chemical messages act as triggers for various physiological responses. What should ensure your body is capable of fighting off disease and illness, instead causes some very unpleasant side effects.
Essentially your body is all geared up for a fight, but there’s nothing there for it to attack, so it ends up in overdrive, inadvertently taking it all out on systems you need. Your heart rate and blood pressure will elevate, while your blood sugar levels soar.
Where your skin is concerned, these stress hormones cause the overproduction of cortisol, which in turn weakens your immune system and causes an inflammatory response. This is why you may experience eczema or flare-ups of psoriasis when you’re stressed.
It will exacerbate an existing tendency towards these problems, and can easily trigger underlying conditions that you’ve not experienced before but were always predisposed to.