Inflammatory Skin Conditions Strongly Linked to Stress in New Study

AcneIf you have chronic acne, rosacea, psoriasis and other inflammatory skin conditions, it might be time to de-stress.

Researchers have discovered that the reason people often get pimples right before big days or breakouts on photo day may be that these inflammatory skin conditions have a strong link to stress. Reducing stress levels may in fact be the key to clearing skin.

Since personal stress is difficult to quantify, it’s also difficult to prove that stress damages the skin’s appearance, but researchers have known for years that the nervous system impacts conditions like psoriasis.

In a more recent study conducted with mice, researchers discovered that stress affecting the nervous system not only causes skin conditions, it can worsen them. The mice in the study were genetically prone to skin inflammation. The mice under stress developed rashes, while those mice that weren’t under stress didn’t.

These findings served to reinforce existing knowledge about the interrelated nature of the nervous system, stress, and inflammatory skin conditions in humans. Stress can cause nerve endings in the skin to release more neuropeptides and neurotransmitters than usual, affecting how our body responds to functions like blood flow and raising stress. These chemicals can also increase skin inflammation.

“Routine proper face care is the best way to lower the effects stress has on your skin, with multi-step products that start with a cleanser and end with a treatment product being most the effective,” says Abigail Smiley-Krause, National Sales Executive and Esthetician, Hylunia. “Using products that contain lavender for example have the ability to both soothe as well as relax your skin.”

A previous study in 2003 published by Stanford University in the Archives of Dermatology reported that college students experienced more acne flare-ups during stressful periods like exams versus periods where they weren’t stress. The severity of the acne increased with the severity of stress.

In fact, this connection is so strong that dermatologists are unable to just prescribe a regimen of leaving pimples alone. While good advice on it’s own, it’s not enough to deal with stress factors as well. Fidgeting, picking and itching can result from elevated stress. These behaviors can spread bacteria and, by extension, breakouts to other parts of the skin as well as increase the risk of infection.

Blocking specific pathways between the skin and nervous system may be the key to reducing the affects of stress on inflammatory skin conditions. As researchers make more discoveries about stress and it’s effect on the skin, new treatments can be developed to mitigate it.