Posts for: January, 2020
Stress and Your Skin
We all deal with different stresses, whether related to our jobs, our families, the cities we live in or the constant struggle to do it all. Stress is not our friend and stress is not good for our skin. Our skin is the largest organ in our bodies, and it can show signs of stress in a number of different ways, such as psoriasis and eczema flare-ups, seborrheic dermatitis and even acne.
Of course, everyone’s body and skin will react to stress in different ways, as we all have different genetic makeups. However, our skin can’t tell the difference between different types of stress — physical, emotional, psychological and environmental. To the skin, stress falls into one of two categories: acute or chronic, The more detrimental form of stress for the skin is the chronic kind of stress. The longer you endure stress, the more it takes a toll on your skin. Stress affects your skin (and your body) in different ways including but not limited to:
Stress triggers inflammation
To better understand how stress might affect and inflame the skin, research confirms a deep and powerful connection of the skin, mind and gut. When the mind perceives stress, it can slow down digestion in the gut. The longer the stress lasts, the more of an impact it can have on your digestion, and when your digestion is slowed, it can affect the bacteria in your gut. A recent study found that high levels of stress can affect the gut bacteria much like a high-fat diet. That slowed motility allows for an overgrowth of unhealthy strains of bacteria, and the natural balance of gut microbes is disrupted, leading to something called dysbiosis. This in turn causes the lining of your intestines to become ‘leaky,’ or more permeable, which triggers a bodywide cascade of inflammation.
As a result of the internal inflammation, the skin may break out in acne or experience flare-ups of psoriasis or eczema. When you’re under stress, your body thinks it’s under attack, and it’s going to form all these inflammatory markers or inflammatory cells to help treat that attack.
Because these inflammatory cells have increased in number, it can trigger flare-ups of any skin conditions people may be predisposed to.
Stress can dry your skin out
Whenever our body feels it’s under stress, our fight-or-flight response kicks in, Patel noted. As a result, we experience a spike in adrenaline and cortisol.
An increase in adrenaline causes us to sweat more, she noted. It activates the eccrine glands, the sweat glands, which cause you to become dehydrated, because you’re losing a lot more water very quickly. she said.
Those who have dry skin in general are more prone to eczema. Stress is a known trigger for eczema, which brings us to our next point.
Stress hormones can trigger existing conditions to worsen or flare up
The theory is that the immune system is directly affected by stress. Stress releases hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline into our systems — chemical messages that trigger certain physiological responses in our bodies. For instance, adrenaline increases the heart rate and elevates blood pressure, and cortisol increases sugar in the bloodstream. In terms of the skin, when the body produces too much cortisol, the immune system is weakened, causing an inflammatory response such as an eczema or psoriasis flare-up. This factor is particularly relevant for individuals who are predisposed to these skin conditions, as stress can exacerbate or unmask those conditions.
Stress can also make you oilier, which could lead to acne breakouts
That shift in hormone levels - cortisol in particular ― caused by stress can also be a contributing factor to pesky acne breakouts. Stress stimulates the brain to produce a specific set of hormones that prepare the body for the stressful environment. As a side effect, these hormones rev up activity of sebaceous glands in the skin, leading to higher than normal levels of oil, blockages in the pores and acne breakouts.
Stress can also take a toll on your scalp and hair
When it comes to your scalp and hair, there are a couple of ways stress can manifest. Some people might find their hair is oilier or drier than normal during times of stress, depending on the way their bodies react to the shift in hormone levels. Everyone’s response is going to be different in severity. Your scalp and your hair will definitely feel the effects of stress. Some individuals might experience flare-ups of seborrheic dermatitis, a cousin to psoriasis and dandruff. The condition could result in redness and flaking of the scalp. In some cases, stress can even lead to hair loss. For example, when your body experiences a major stressor, like a severe illness, your body stops producing hair, which isn’t crucial for healing or surviving. The effects of such stress might not be noticeable until months later. Hair often starts shedding even after minor stresses. When you put your body through a significant change, it’s essentially a stressor.
Stress can wreak havoc on your nails
The same way your body stops producing hair in times of prolonged stress, it also stops making nails. Again, nails are not necessary for survival, so when it comes time for the body to distribute energy to promote healing, nails aren’t a top priority. Nails can become brittle or start peeling during times of stress.
So how should you take care of your skin when you’re stressed out?
It’s best to keep your skin care routine simple by using gentle cleansers and moisturizers to remove excess oil and keep the skin well hydrated (particularly important for those with eczema). For individuals who are acne prone, regular use of retinoids to keep the follicles clear so that oil does not become trapped, causing breakouts. Managing stress is a multifaceted effort. We recommend that our patients aim to get a solid seven to nine hours of sleep, exercise three or four times a week and consider meditation or deep breathing exercises. There isn’t one single method for treating skin that’s under stress.
The first thing is being aware that your body is under stress and trying to find ways to either ameliorate the stress or find ways to release the stress. Exercise and meditation have been known to help some individuals feel less stressed. There isn’t one right answer for each person, but there are different things that will work for each individual, depending on what their stress triggers are. Talk with your Gardens Dermatology provider about products that best fit your skin health needs.
It’s a New Year-Commit to Your Skin Health
The phrase skin care often brings to mind three things; skin cancer, dry skin and the many options of skin care products offered at Gardens Dermatology. But it’s more than a surface-level concern. While a skin care routine may sound like high maintenance, in reality, the steps for healthy skin are not only necessary, they’re easy to implement too.
Investing early in the health of your skin, with regular skin care, will not only better protect it from harsh environmental factors, but also keep you looking and feeling your best throughout the year. A key to skin resiliency is knowing your skin and treating it well. You’ll want to take into account your skin type. The primary skin types are dry, oily or combination and while your skin may get drier or oilier based on the season, the majority of the time it should be relatively consistent. You should know what makes up a healthy skin routine. Which is to say, what types of products do you really need to keep your skin healthy and clean? Your Gardens Dermatology provider can help you choose the best products for your skin.
Cleanser is what you’ll use to wash your face and it’s important to use a product intended for your face – not just whatever bar or body wash you have lying around. You’ll want to wash your face gently and take care not to scrub too hard. Then, rinse with warm water, because hot water removes natural oils and causes your skin to become dehydrated.
Toner is applied after washing your face and can smooth, soften and calm skin. Toners often contain ingredients that replenish and restore nutrients to your skin and can diminish redness and dry patches.
Like cleansers, moisturizers are for everyone and should be used every time you wash your face. And like cleansers, a little trial and error is totally normal when you’re looking for the right one – oily skin, for example, can benefit from lightweight, oil-free or gel products. Moisturizers prevent your skin from drying out, leaving your skin hydrated and smooth. They are most effective when applied while your skin is slightly damp to seal in moisture.
Some moisturizers include SPF but it doesn’t hurt to double up with sunscreen as well – particularly if your moisturizer has an SPF below 30. By now, you should know the lines well: Apply sunscreen every day, even when it’s gray or cold, even when you’re covered up. When you are exposed, reapply every two hours. Make sure your sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB rays. If skin cancer and sun damage aren’t enough to convince you, UV exposure is also the number one cause of wrinkles, uneven skin tone, loss of firmness and aging signs.
Here’s a product you might not need or want to apply every day. If you have dry skin, including winter-air-induced dry skin, you may exfoliate more than usual, but you should still keep it to once or twice a week – max. Exfoliation can be used after cleanser but before moisturizer, as it helps to removes flaky skin by increasing skin cell turnover. The benefits are real – removing dead skin and buildup for smoother skin and clearer pores – but most dermatologists will recommend chemical exfoliants over scrubs to prevent damage to the protective barrier of your skin.
Another optional addition to your skin care routine, serums contain ingredients like antioxidants or retinol that support skin health in a number of ways, such as calming redness and improving texture and firmness.
When You Should Use What
The easiest way to remember when you should be doing what for your skin is to think of it like this: Morning skin care should focus on prevention and protection for the day and your nighttime routine should focus on cleansing and repair.
Most people will only need to really wash their face once a day. In the morning, rinsing with warm water before applying moisturizer and sunscreen should suffice, while at night, after a full day of exposure and damage, more dedicated care is recommended. As such, before bed, you should wash your face with a cleanser to remove dirt and makeup then use toner, exfoliant and serums if you so choose. In any case, always end with moisturizing.
Regardless of the time of day, you should also always wash your face after working out or working up a sweat, as sweat can clog pores and make acne worse. As a rule, remember to take your makeup off before bed and resist picking at your skin.
What About the Weather
Season’s change can bring about adjustments to your skin care and maybe the products you use, but it shouldn’t require any major overhaul of your routine.
In the winter, it’s all about extra moisturizing. The cold weather contributes to dryness and wind can chap skin too. You may want to shift to a more moisturizing cleanser to supplement your daily moisturizer.
Conversely, in the summer, your skin may be oilier and you can turn to an oil-free cleanser. Sunscreen is a staple for all seasons, but it’s fair to adjust to a lighter weight for daily use in the summer months – just be sure to bring out the heavy-duty stuff for any concentrated time spent in the sun.
Furthermore, remember you don’t have to wait for the leaves to fall or the snow to melt to switch up your skin care routine. If your skin changes – due to the environment, hormones or anything else – it’s totally fair to adjust your routine in kind. Your Gardens Dermatology provider is a great resource if you struggle to get a handle on your skin care. We can help suggest drugstore products, prescribe more serious help and provide lifestyle advice to help address other factors that may be affecting your skin.
Many factors can affect your skin and your skin – as your largest organ and first line of health defense – deserves to be protected. When considering skin care, you’ll want to be aware of your environment and daily health, such as diet, stress and fitness. Still, at the end of the day, a skin care routine involving cleanser and moisturizer can go a long way. Commit to make 2020 your healthiest year. Schedule your skin check today. (561)776-7041