Stress, we all experience it. We feel it in our bodies and sometimes even in our thoughts. But is it possible that stress can also show up in our skin? Your skin is your body’s largest organ. It’s the one of the first things that others come in contact with when they meet or see you. People may not be able to see that you’re stressed but, it is possible for your skin to tell on you.
Depending on your unique genetic makeup, your skin may be dry or sensitive, oily or a combination. But when you add stress (which brings stress hormones to your cellular party), you may find that your skin starts to change. It may, for instance, go from dry to oily. You may find yourself stocking up on blotting paper, something you may never have needed before. There are plenty of factors that go into the way your skin presents itself. Stress, hormonal changes, less hydration and an insufficient diet are just a few things that can affect your skin.
Stress is the result of a stimulus or demand on your body that is physical, intellectual, emotional, etc. Contrary to popular belief, stress isn’t always a bad thing. Your best friend that you haven’t spent time with in three years coming to visit is a wonderful thing. And yet it can still be a stressful thing as it creates an emotional demand. Stress of any type can have many effects on the body.
Long-term stress often has the most adverse effects on the body, including:
- Elevated blood pressure
- Reduced sleep
- Hair loss
- Weight gain
- Skin changes
So how are oily skin and stress related? Cortisol. It is the main stress related hormone and it along with other androgen hormones tend to cause changes in the skin. Here’s how it happens. Stress causes the production of cortisol, which then constricts capillaries, veins and blood vessels which decreases the flow of blood. It also can cause increased perspiration. Couple these two and your skin may choose to increase its oil production to protect itself. Oil builds up and clogs pores which can increase breakouts. Excess oil can also dry your skin out because it tricks the skin into thinking that it’s hydrated when it isn’t. But what can you do if this is happening to you?
Skin isn’t a static thing that stays the same, so you have the power to reverse your troubled skin. If your oily skin is the result of stress, reducing the amount of stress you encounter can do a lot to better your situation. Here are some things you can try:
- Getting more restful sleep
- Exercising more
- Decreasing your sugar and salt intake
- Drinking more water
- Reducing your work or task load
Although stress can result in oily skin, it doesn’t have to stay that way. There are many things you can do to lighten your body’s stress hormone load and feel more confident in your skin. If all else fails and you’re still experiencing a lot of stress and prolonged oily skin, get help. A dermatologist or a therapist may be able to help you come up with a plan to better your situation.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She is interested in mental health and well-being.