How Stress and Anxiety Can Affect Your Skin

September 19, 2022

How Stress and Anxiety Can Affect Your Skin

The biggest organ in the human body is the skin. It acts as a protective barrier, regulates temperature, offers immunity, helps excretion, and acts as a water-resistant layer. As a result, you can see why it is essential to care for your skin. Unfortunately, stress and anxiety can affect your skin by triggering a chemical reaction that makes it more sensitive and reactive. That often manifests in acne, redness, and other breakouts caused when more oil is released to compensate for the skin dryness induced by stress. Stress and anxiety can worsen preexisting skin conditions, induce product reactions, make the skin red and itchy, and cause lumps or even more severe conditions. But let's talk about these issues in more detail, shall we?

First things first: understand your skin!

Your skin is a protein, fat, and water mixture that serves as your first line of defense against heat, light, injury, and infection. It keeps your body temperature stable, produces vitamin D, and keeps bacteria at bay. The epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis are the three layers that make up the skin. The epidermis is the outer layer you can see and feel, made up of protein and keratin. This layer is continuously rebuilding and creating new skin cells to replace those that you lost. The epidermis also contains the pigment responsible for your skin color, melanin, which also reacts to sunlight and gives you your beautiful tan.

The middle layer of skin, the dermis, accounts for 90% of the thickness of your skin. It is composed of collagen and elastin, which provide strength and elasticity to your skin cells. At the same time, hair follicles, blood vessels, nerve receptors, and oil and sweat glands are also part of the dermis. Finally, the hypodermis, the skin's bottom layer, is composed of fat cells and collagen. It regulates your body's temperature, protects your organs, and contains the tissue that connects your skin to your muscles and bones.

Caption: Your skin is the first barrier to stand between your body and external factors that might want to harm it.

Alt-tag: Woman embracing herself.

What are stress and anxiety?

Any demand applied to your brain or body is referred to as stress. It can trigger because of an event or scenario that causes you to feel frustrated or nervous. For example, if you are preparing to move into your first home, know that moving and stress usually go together. Especially if this is your first time going through such a significant life event. However, good planning can minimize it and its effects and help you have a pleasant experience. Also, if you feel overwhelmed, ask for help from family and friends or moving professionals. Having someone by your side in stressful situations is always a great relief.


At the same time, we should also talk about anxiety. Anxiety is a state of fear, concern, or uneasiness that can arise because of stress, but it can also happen without an obvious trigger. For example, you may feel anxiety when confronted with a challenging situation at work, when taking a test, before a medical exam, or when you get married. The good news is that you may reduce the effects of anxiety by talking about it with loved ones, exercising frequently, and avoiding coffee, alcohol, and tobacco. However, if you believe your anxiety is out of control, get proper help.


Caption: All the stress and anxiety t you feel daily can affect your skin and cause irreversible damage.

Alt-tag: Stressed woman biting on a pencil.

How do stress and anxiety affect your skin?

Stress and anxiety generate a chemical reaction in your body that causes your skin to become more sensitive and reactive. It can also aggravate preexisting skin conditions and make them harder to heal. Did you notice that you get more skin breakouts when you're stressed? That is because stress stimulates your body to produce cortisol, which makes glands in your skin release more oil.


At the same time, hormone fluctuations caused by stress and anxiety can impact your scalp and hair, making them oilier or drier than usual. That can result in dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, or scalp psoriasis. In addition, chronic stress can also cause hair loss. And although hair loss is not a big health problem, it plays a significant role in a person's look. However, you can fight hair loss by using natural products that can make your hair stronger and healthier. We recommend that you visit a skin and hair specialist for any other, more severe issues.

What skin conditions can stress and anxiety cause?

When it comes to your skin, stress and anxiety can affect your skin in many ways. Here's a list of the most occurring ones and what you can do to prevent them:


  • Acne or burning and itchy skin rashes
  • Hives, red spots, and bumps
  • Dermatitis
  • Dry skin and hair
  • Hair loss, oily hair, and dandruff
  • Brittle nails
  • Dark circles around the eyes
  • Fine lines and wrinkles
  • Eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea


Fortunately, there are some things you can do to prevent or mitigate these issues. For instance, you should maintain a daily skincare routine even if you are tired or stressed. You might worsen your conditions if you ignore your skin when it needs your attention the most. In addition, eat a healthy, balanced diet rich in whole foods and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and engage in regular physical activity. Get adequate sleep so your body can heal, and make time to care for yourself by doing things you enjoy and relax you. Read a book, listen to music, go for a massage, meditate, or practice yoga exercises for spiritual healing. However, if your skin issues become severe or you can't manage the stress and anxiety causing them, we recommend you seek specialized help.

Caption: When you look good, you are more confident and less anxious, and when you feel stress and anxiety, it affects your skin.
Alt-tag: A woman looking and smiling at a mirror.

Bottom line

Stress and anxiety are unavoidable parts of our everyday life. They can, however, leave a lasting mark on your skin if they become chronic. Acne, hives, or wrinkles are a few examples of how stress and anxiety can affect your skin. Many other skin conditions are more damaging and hard to repair. However, all is not lost. You can try to minimize and avoid the things in your life that cause stress and anxiety and prevent premature aging. Eat well, sleep more, exercise, and practice mindfulness, and your skin will start to glow.

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