How stress is messing with your skin, according to a naturopath
Stress triggers a wide range of physiological and behavior changes and responses as the body tries to adapt to the impacts of stress. The skin is a key stress mediator, acting as a primary sensory organ with a highly developed system where stress hormones and their receptors are produced in the skins cells.
Cortisol is the primary stress hormone in humans that regulates a wide range of stress responses. Under stress cortisol is increased suppressing the immune system and increasing the production of inflammatory hormones and cytokines, contributors to increased trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL), impaired barrier function, delayed wound healing, inflammation and ageing.
Multiple skin conditions can be triggered or aggravated by stress such as acne, eczema (atopic dermatitis), contact dermatitis, psoriasis, alopecia areata (hair loss), pruritus (itch) and erythema (redness) and rosacea.
During times of stress the skin will often respond with an increase in irritation or sensitivity to cosmetic ingredients or products, largely due to impaired barrier function. During this time it is often best to pair back your routine, focussing on essential products that will assist to reduce inflammation, normalise skin behaviour and repair barrier functioning.