It is known that increased stress levels affect your mental health but they also manifest physically in the form of skin conditions.
Many of us overlook these conditions thinking of them as an allergic reaction to something we have eaten or touched. Most of these skin conditions are benign but if they are not treated properly or if somehow we’ve further aggravated them (by scratching or rubbing the wrong lotions and creams) they can spread rapidly to other areas, with worse symptoms and will require more serious treatments.
If these conditions are left untreated they can cause severe irritation and embarrassment because of their unpleasant appearance.
6 Most Common Stress-Related Skin Conditions
Here are 6 most common stress-related skin conditions that people experience:
1. Stress Hives
Stress hives manifest as either a red rash or red bumps that appear on your skin when you are undergoing chronic stress or tension in your life.1 When you experience extreme stress whether it is for a long or short period, your body’s immune system changes.
As a response, the immune system releases histamine into the body in an attempt to fight whatever is making you ill. Because histamine is ineffective in treating stress, it instead causes hives to appear on your neck, face, chest, arms, and other parts of your body.
Hives are incredibly itchy and can even leave you with a burning and stinging sensation. Those that are triggered by stress tend to disappear when you are relieved of stress but if they don’t, patients are prescribed a hive treatment.
Stress hives are usually benign but in some rare cases may be accompanied by serious swelling. If such hives are present around your face and neck, they can even impede your breathing. If you’re looking for simple natural remedies to treat your hives, try holding a cold compress against your skin for 15 minutes, it should help calm your hives. Apple cider vinegar also helps reduce inflammation. Dilute apple cider vinegar with equal parts water and wash the affected area.
Psoriasis is essentially an autoimmune disease which appears as scaly silvery patches on the skin. There is no clear cause of psoriasis but it is believed that a weak immune system and genetic makeup plays a role in its occurrence.
Research by the National Psoriasis Foundation has linked stress as the main cause of breakouts in those who suffer from psoriasis.2 It is classed as an inflammatory disease which is often activated by moments of stress.
In psoriasis, skin cells are replaced more rapidly than they should be. In healthy people, skin cells develop over 3-4 weeks but when you suffer from psoriasis, skin cells can produce in a period of 3-7days. This leads to a thick layer of scaly, patchy skin in infected areas.
Although psoriasis is not curable, it can be treated with corticosteroid ointments. Breakouts can be prevented by avoiding stress and embracing a healthy lifestyle with limited consumption of alcohol. Taking fish oil capsules, incorporating turmeric in your diets and choosing to eat gluten-free should help prevent breakouts.
If psoriasis spreads across your scalp, then soak a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar and pat your scalp with it. It will kill off the fungus.
Eczema is often thought of as a specific skin condition but it actually defines a group of medical conditions that cause inflammation in the skin. The most common form of eczema is atopic dermatitis which is a red rash that can appear all over your body depending on the intensity of the breakout.3
What is common amongst all form of eczema is the intense itch that it causes. Those who suffer from severe eczema can cause bleeding in infected areas from scratching too much. Eczema is commonly found in individuals who have a family history of eczema, however, it is triggered by emotional stress according to the National Eczema Association.
Like many skin conditions, eczema itself can lead to stress and anxiety. Those who suffer from eczema can control it by exercising regularly and practicing relaxation techniques like meditation. Rubbing coconut oil on infected areas will relieve you of the itchiness and soothe the skin. Having oatmeal baths is another way of reducing inflammation caused by eczema.
Rosacea is a common but lesser known skin condition that causes excessive redness and pimples on the face. In some more severe cases small, red, pus-filled pimples may also appear which many mistakes it for acne.
Unlike many other stress-related skin problems that can occur throughout one’s life, rosacea is most common amongst those that are above the age of 30.
Emotional stress is considered one of the primary conditions of rosacea. The National Rosacea Society states that managing your stress levels will help relieve a rosacea breakout, however, if the redness is persistent you will need to consult a physician.4
Chamomile compress is effective in reducing the redness caused by rosacea. Simply steep 6 bags of chamomile tea into 3 cups of boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove the tea bags and place the warm water into the fridge. When the water is cold enough, dip a cotton cloth into the bowl, wring out the excess and place it on your face for 15minutes.
The same can be done using green tea bags.
5. Seborrheic Dermatitis
Seborrheic dermatitis is often confused with eczema and psoriasis. It manifests as an itchy rash near your scalp. It begins near your hairline and then spreads to other areas of your scalp and even your body.
American Academy of Dermatology reports that stress as the primary trigger of seborrheic dermatitis although it can occur from a combination of things including allergic reactions to medicine, dry weather, and the presence of yeast on the skin.5
Seborrheic dermatitis can be treated with antifungal shampoos and corticosteroid lotions. Like with psoriasis, apple cider vinegar is effective in eliminating seborrheic dermatitis.
Mix one part of apple cider vinegar with one part water and massage it all over the infected area with a cotton ball. Regular use of coconut oil on your head will also prevent breakouts of seborrheic dermatitis. If you find that you suffer from a dry scalp, make sure massage your head with coconut oil regularly to provide moisture to your scalp.
Acne is the most common stress-related skin condition. Scientists still don’t know exactly how stress exacerbates acne but studies published in American Academy of Dermatology have found a clear link between heightened stress levels and acne breakouts.6
Increased stress levels trigger an inflammatory response in the body that force the walls of pores to break. The body reacts with redness around broken pores and fills them with pus, creating zits.
Stress causes our adrenal glands to release the male hormone, androgen. Higher levels of androgen in the body lead to acne. In women, a large portion of androgen is produced by adrenal glands and this is why women are more likely to experience stress.
Acne is more difficult to treat than other skin conditions which can be soothed with topical ointments. You have to follow a holistic approach to get rid of acne. Not only are you going to have to look after your skin but also your internal body. You need to focus on keeping your hormones balanced through regular exercise, proper sleep, and a balanced diet.
Because higher stress levels do cause acne breakouts, you will have to learn ways to better manage your stress levels.
Most of these skin conditions are harmless. Eczema and psoriasis, if left untreated, will spread rapidly and alter your appearance significantly so they should not be ignored. These conditions are triggered by stress and are also the cause of more stress. It becomes important to treat them when you first spot the symptoms to stop your stress levels from increasing and worsening the condition.
|↑1||Yang, Hsiao-Yu, Chee-Ching Sun, Yin-Chang Wu, and Jung-Der Wang. “Stress, insomnia, and chronic idiopathic urticaria-a case-control study.” Journal of the Formosan Medical Association 104, no. 4 (2005): 254-263.|
|↑2||CAUSES AND TRIGGERS, National Psoriasis Foundation|
|↑3||Understanding your atopic dermatitis, National Eczema Association|
|↑4||Stress, National Rosacea Society|
|↑5||Seborrheic dermatitis, American Academy of Dermatology|
|↑6||Reducing stress may help lead to clearer skin, American Academy of Dermatology|