How Does Stress Affect The Skin?
Hi there, I'm Dr. Elizabeth Hughes. Today I am going to answer the question of “How stress affects the skin?” I'm a dermatologist by training and so I know a lot about the skin. And I know a lot about stress because I've studied it for so many years. So, I’m excited to talk about this subject.
1 The skin is the largest organ in the body and new skin cells grow constantly.
The skin is one of the most metabolically active parts of the body and it's the largest organ in the body. So, it actually demands a lot of energy, both in terms of food to rebuild proteins (because the skin grows constantly) as well as energy to deliver the nutrients to the skin and to circulate blood through it.
2 Even though the skin is the largest organ in the body, it's not "important" in the same way that the heart is. So when you are under stress, your body sends energy and blood flow away from the skin to help more "important" parts of your body.
Now here's how stress affects the skin. When you are under constant stress, your body actually prioritizes parts of your body systems, mainly your organ systems that have the greatest role of helping you survive. Even though skin is the largest organ in the body, it's not “necessary” for survival, at least not in the way that your heart and your lungs and muscles are necessary for survival. (Even muscles don't fare very well in all of this too, so don't get me wrong and think the muscles have it good.)
When exposed to chronic, long term stress, your skin doesn't grow in quite the same way that it should. It may become dry or have a different texture to it. It may become more fragile.
3 Stress decreases wound healing.
Wound healing is incredibly hampered by stress. Wound healing often times is almost shut down over periods of long-term stress. So, if you have something a cut or a bruise or something that requires some healing, stress will slow that down.
4 Stress inactivates the skin's immune system.
Let's not forget that stress also affects the immune system and the immune system is right in the skin, the skin has its built-in immune system. So, that your body is less able to get rid of bacteria that's on the surface of your skin. You can get more infections and be less able to clear the infections.
5 Hormonal changes associated with stress also affect the skin.
Finally, hormones change -- particularly testosterone and estrogen -- when you have constant stress. These hormone changes can lead acne and stretch marks.
6 To Wrap Up: The skin is a mirror of the stress that's going on inside you.
Most of us have experienced getting more pimples around the time of exams when we were in school or under other forms of stress, so we know how sensitive to stress our skin is. The skin is a mirror to the stress that's going on inside.
If you want to know more about how stress affects your body or your memory or your brain or your metabolism, you can look for my other videos. Thank you so much for watching and if you want to know more, you can find me at elizabethhughesmd.com.