Friday, May 5, 2017

The Connection Between Skin and Stress

A young, distressed Asian woman squeezing a pimple on her chin.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
We’ve all been there. It’s right before a wedding, right before a big presentation. It’s right before some huge event and your skin is freaking the hell out. You were fine just a couple weeks ago, but now your face is covered in red spots, pimples, and maybe even a little rash.

Despite the fact that most of us have experienced this phenomenon, studies show that the majority of Americans do not believe that stress has any connection to skin. But that’s all changing, thanks to a new field called psychodermatology.

“Psychodermatology practitioners treat skin the way a psychotherapist treats behaviorby learning how it responds to emotional and environmental stressors and helping to moderate those responses,” says Ted Grossbart, Ph.D.The more we learn about how much emotional and psychological states influence our physical states, and vice versa, the more the line blurs between these categories.”

This revolutionary new medical field is more important given the fact that stress levels are on the rise in the U.S. Yep, that’s right, according to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA), average stress levels in the U.S. increased from 4.9 in 2014 to 5.1 in 2015. And that’s on a 10-point scale.

"The common dermatological issues that have been documented to be made worse by stress include acne, rosacea, psoriasis, itching, eczema, pain and hives, just to name a few," says Rick Fried, MD, PhD.

So what can you do to protect your skin in times of stress?

It’s simple: set some time aside to take care of your mental/emotional well being. A lot of people find yoga to do the trick. Others find going on a walk helps them decompress. And yet others will find that simply allowing themselves to kick back, relax, and watch some TV gives them some much-needed relaxation.

But whichever method you choose, make sure that you combine your relaxation ritual with a healthy diet, exercise, and 7-8 hours of sleep each night.