While navigating through a worldwide pandemic and trying to continue our daily activities, life has become more stressful to say the least. The mind and skin are connected on many levels, which is why stress can greatly affect the appearance of our skin. It causes the body to produce more of the hormone cortisol, which stimulates oil release from the sebaceous glands. Excessive oil production by these glands can clog pores and lead to acne. Cortisol is also linked to the breakdown of collagen and elastin in your skin, which accelerates aging. We spoke with Dr. Maleeha Jawaid* to find out more on how to deal with stressed out skin:
Identifying Stressed Out Skin
According to Dr. Maleeha, stress can have different reactions on different people. Some of the most common effects of stress on the skin are inflammation, redness, dryness and irritation. This means you may break out more frequently and notice more oil production and/or itchiness. Inflammation may also cause premature aging and more prominent fine lines. Stress can aggravate certain conditions including psoriasis, eczema and contact dermatitis. Once you notice inflammation, it is important to stop everything you are using and switch to a basic routine. Opt for a mild cleanser or just wash with water, and use a mild moisturiser, topped with SPF. Avoid any fragrances, chemicals and physical exfoliants.
Causes Of Stressed Out Skin
Dr. Maleeha laid out several factors that can lead to stressed out skin. These include:
- Lifestyle changes (chronic stress)
- Poor diet (processed, sugary and refined foods)
- Consuming foods you may have a sensitivity to (lactose intolerance, gluten sensitivity)
- Environment changes (heat, humidity, air pollution)
Best Ingredients To Manage This Condition
These are some home remedies you can use to on the skin to bring down inflammation. These are the ones that dermatologist, Dr. Maleeha recommends:
- Aloe Vera
- Cold Milk
- Turmeric (anti-inflammatory)
- Pure rose water (avoid all essential oils)
When choosing products to purchase, Dr. Maleeha says that there are certain things to look out for, such as:
- Chamomile or green tea extract: These soothe irritated skin and have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Glycerin and Hyaluronic Acid: These ingredients are humectants and help your skin retain moisture, which leads to a reduction in inflammation.
- Avoid any products that contain alcohol: Alcohol harms the skins protective surface and deteriorates the skin’s natural protective barrier.
How To Avoid Aggravating Your Skin In The First Place
We asked Dr. Maleeha if there’s any advice she has to avoid stressing our skin out in the first place: “I tend to see more of a younger population with these specific skin issues. Young adults and recent graduates entering the workforce can see an increase in stress which has a direct effect on their skin. Stress may be inevitable, but it is important to find ways to cope with that stress. Scheduling time for relaxing activities may help you reduce stress caused by a busy schedule.” She recommends some lifestyle tips to decrease the effects of stress on the skin, these include:
- Maintaining good lifestyle habits: Sustaining a healthy diet, drinking plenty of water and getting a good night’s sleep.
- Watch the intake of certain foods: Avoid foods with a high glycemic food index including sugary foods, white bread, potatoes, white rice etc.
- Exercise regularly: Exercise increases blood flow which helps nourish the working cells by carrying oxygen and nutrients to the skin cells.
- Practice stress management techniques: Breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, prayer.
- Talk to someone: If the stress feels unmanageable, seek support from a friend, family member or a professional therapist.
Dr. Jawaid holds her MBBS from Ziauddin University and her MSc. in Clinical Dermatology from the UK. She is a doctor by profession but has a passion for health and beauty. She loves reviewing beauty and skincare related products. Check her out on Facebook or Instagram @inyourfacebymaleeha