February 10, 2017

How Stress Affects the Skin (and How We Can Help)

Stress can leave its mark on our health, weight, well-being and appearance. The skin is particularly susceptible to the effects of stress and can become dull, sallow or even irritated because of stress. Here, Dr. Abhay Gupta explains how stress damages the skin and what he and his team of experts can do to reverse these effects.

Hormone Changes Lead to Breakouts, Poor Skin Tone and More

One of the body’s responses to stress is to release a hormone called cortisol. With a spike in cortisol, the skin is no longer able to retain all of its moisture. The oil glands start to overcompensate for the dryness, which can lead to acne breakouts. The decreased moisture in the skin also exacerbates skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.

If cortisol levels are high long-term, eventually the hormone causes the skin’s supply of collagen and elastin to dwindle, giving the skin a prematurely aged appearance. The lack of moisture also emphasizes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Another way the body responds to stress is by releasing the adrenaline hormone epinephrine (this is the body’s fight-or-flight response). Epinephrine restricts the small blood vessels in the skin and redirects blood flow to the brain and muscles; as a result, the skin no longer receives adequate amounts of oxygen and other nutrients. Because of this, skin tone can become poor, oil glands can overreact, causing acne, and the body produces less collagen and elastin.

Reversing Signs of Stress

Dr. Gupta and his team of experts can reverse many of the signs of stress on the skin. For example, injections of Botox and dermal filler products can minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. A chemical peel or laser skin resurfacing treatment can eliminate the top layer of dry, damaged, wrinkled skin to reveal fresh skin underneath. Or, a personalized skin care routine with medical-grade products can soothe acne breakouts, repair cell damage and restore moisture to the skin.

At home, patients should work to manage stress and mitigate its effect on their skin. Techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises, aerobic exercise, yoga and therapy can help reduce stress. Basic healthy habits like getting adequate nutrition, sleeping well and being active can also help to de-stress.

To learn more about how Dr. Gupta can help improve a complexion affected by stress, please contact Gupta Plastic Surgery by calling (858) 621-6000 or sending us an email.

Fun Fact of the Month: Research has shown that eating dark chocolate decreases cortisol and other stress hormone levels. Ask your loved one for a box of dark chocolate for Valentine’s Day!