How Stress Affects Pre-Existing Skin Conditions

Woman stressed out How Stress Affects Pre-Existing Skin Conditions

Having a skin condition is certainly no walk in the park. Conditions like psoriasis, rosacea, dermatitis, and eczema can cause extreme distress. Yet, ironically, the more you stress, the worse your condition can become. Let’s dive a bit more into the role stress plays in pre-existing skin conditions and how to control your stress.

What to Know About Stress and Skin

Understanding Stress

No matter how simple our lives may be or how happy we are, everyone experiences stress every once in a while. Truth be told, a little stress is nothing to stress about, but chronic stress can become more than an emotional issue.

To put it simply, stress is your body’s natural reaction to a threat or otherwise highly emotional situation. When you’re stressed, your body kicks into fight or flight mode. During these moments, your heart rate increases, and adrenaline rushes throughout your body. This causes you to have heightened senses and even a healthy dose of extra strength.

Sounds cool, doesn’t it? In a way, it is, but imagine undergoing this type of biological change daily. Having numerous stress reactions throughout the day can be damaging to the entire body, including the skin.

How Stress Affects Pre-Existing Skin Conditions

Beyond causing a biological reaction, stress also causes a chemical reaction. It’s this reaction that causes you to sweat more when stressed and also causes your hormone levels, including the hormone cortisol, to rise. Cortisol is the steroid hormone produced by the adrenal gland that (among many other things) tells your body to produce sebum.

Sebum is the body’s natural oil, and it is most present in the skin and hair. However, when too much sebum is produced, it results in acne, cysts, and inflammation that can worsen pre-existing skin conditions.

High cortisol levels also boost the inflammatory and immune response. Anyone with pre-existing conditions knows how important these two responses are when it comes to battling issues like psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema. When the inflammatory and immune response is heightened, it causes rapid cell turnover. In other words, cells die quickly. This builds up on the skin and causes a psoriasis flare up. The heightened inflammatory response, on the other hand, forces the skin to attempt to heal from an imaginary injury, creating skin conditions like rosacea and eczema.

It’s clear that stress only exacerbates certain conditions, and the best way to fight it is to alleviate your stress.

How to Alleviate Stress to Reduce the Chances of a Flare Up

One of the best ways to keep stress from affecting your skin is to take care of your skin. Treating your skin condition with the help of a dermatologist can not only help you manage your symptoms, but simultaneously alleviate your stress since you’re less worried about a flare up.

It’s also important to find what makes you happy. If you can incorporate happy activities or even happy thoughts into your daily life, you are sure to have less stress and possibly a more fulfilled life.

Let’s not forget about exercise and proper rest. This is probably the easiest way to reduce stress. Not only can it calm you, but it’s also good for your skin and overall health, both mental and physical.


If you believe that stress is affecting your pre-existing skin condition and you’re in Cincinnati, Ohio, our experts at The Dermatology Group may be able to offer advice, resources, and treatment. Give us a call today!

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