Dr. Lubitz discusses: How stress affects the skin

Dr. Paul Lubitz discusses: How stress affects the skin

A recent medical study out of Philadelphia shows an even greater correlation between anxiety and common dermatological conditions.

We have all heard stories about a student stressing out about an exam and waking up with a giant pimple, or of executives being so exhausted from work they experience mild hair loss. Stress and anxiety may be internal emotions. However, they often manifest themselves through our skin and hair health.

The relationship between dermatological health and anxiety was a focus topic at this year’s annual Anxiety and Depression Association of America Annual Meeting, where the study’s results were made public. The authors of the report examined how patient’s mental health issues often went undiagnosed when they sought dermatological outpatient services.

“Anxiety disorders are common, yet often undiagnosed, in patients presenting to outpatient dermatology clinics,” Dr. Laura Dixon, researcher at the University of Mississippi and study co-author wrote. “Anxiety symptoms may contribute to a number of adverse outcomes in dermatology patients.”

Dr. Dixon then listed some of the results, which included poor coping strategies, engagement in maladaptive behaviors, reduced quality of life, increased suicide risk and diminished social functioning.

It’s common knowledge that our overall health is a direct factor on our skin and hair health. However, as the researchers discovered, there is a lack of definitive research on the topic.

“Despite alarming rates of co-occurrence and deleterious consequences of anxiety within this population, there is a paucity of research focused on specific anxiety symptoms and anxiety-related vulnerabilities associated with skin disease,” notes the study.

There are some tell tale signs to look for that will let you know if stress and anxiety is taking a toll on your external health.

There are some tell tale signs to look for that will let you know if stress and anxiety is taking a toll on your external health.

Dr. Paul Lubitz: List of Dermatological Anxiety Signs

    • One of the most common ways that stress affects the skin is through an increased level of skin irritation and sensitivity. Stress can also aggravate and worsen pre-existing conditions, including rosacea, psoriasis, acne and eczema.
    • Dehydration is also a stress-related side effect. Skin that is dehydrated is more susceptible to allergens, bacteria, and pollutants, which in-turn will further irritate the skin.
    • Anxiety and stress can also lighten skin. When people are stressed, they are often referred to as looking pale or drained. This occurs because blood rushes away from the skin toward the heart, which causes the body to lose some of its natural pink pigmentation. This appearance of lighter, pale skin can happen throughout the body, not just the face.There is also some research that indicates severe, repetitive and chronic stress and anxiety can cause varying degrees of liver dysfunction, which may lead to jaundice a condition where the skin becomes yellow.
    • Hair and the delicate follicles of the scalp are also vulnerable to stress. There is even a term for hair loss induced by significant stress, physiological or psychological, including anxiety, known as Telogen Effluvium, which left unchecked can become so severe that half to three-quarters of the hair can fall out.

What are ways of reducing the impact of stress on hair and skin?

Dr. Lubitz states “As always, I recommend drinking lots of water and eating a well balanced diet to keep skin and hair in the best health possible. Healthy skin is likely to not be as strongly impacted by stress as skin that is dehydrated, and poorly nourished.

Also, I recommend implementing effective stress coping strategies like yoga, nature walks, exercise, meditation or even silent reading and use these tools to manage stress effectively and stay healthy”.

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