The Stress Effect on Skin
When you’re under a lot of stress, you feel it AND see it!
Stress related skin conditions are more prevalent than ever. Who doesn’t feel stress with today’s economy, work demands, flurry of information overload and pressure to be everyone’s everything?
Dermatologist and clinical psychologist Richard G. Fried, MD, PhD, FAAD, of Yardley, Pa., noted it is important to consider the biological response that happens when a person experiences stress.
Neuropeptides, the chemicals released by skin’s nerve endings, are the skin’s first line of defense from infection and trauma. When responding to protect the skin, neuropeptides can create inflammation and an uncomfortable skin sensation, such as numbness, itching, sensitivity or tingling.
It is now known that stress causes an “inappropriate” release of these neuropeptides that travel to the brain.
Neuropeptides increase the reuptake of neurotransmitters; the result is a depletion of the chemicals that regulate our emotions, such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.
“When psoriasis patients feel stressed about their condition, it can aggravate their symptoms and lead to a further decline in their emotional state, which becomes a vicious cycle,” added Fried.
Stress compromises the skin’s barrier function so more irritants, allergens, and bacteria can penetrate the skin and cause problems.
Specifically, stress can make a person’s rosacea more red or acne lesions more inflamed and more persistent. It can worsen hives, fever blisters, psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis.
Suggested tactics to reduce stress include meditation, tai chi, yoga, behavioral therapy and psychotherapy in addition to appropriate dermatological support.
This finding on neuropeptide activity was presented at the American Academy of Dermatology’s Summer Academy Meeting 2011