You know when you’re experiencing stress. After your boss comes down hard on you, or you get stuck in a particularly bad rush hour commute, you feel the effects.
Your heart beats quickly, you breathe faster, you sweat, and you feel anxious. At the end of a very stressful day you can feel irritable or have trouble sleeping.
But that’s not the entire story. In addition to changing how you feel, stress can change the way you look. The outward symptoms often affect your skin, hair, and nails.
Have you ever wondered why you break out right before a big test or meeting at work? The link between stress and acne has to do with hormones.
When you’re under stress, your body pumps out more of certain hormones, such as cortisol. These hormones cause glands under your skin to produce more oil.
Excess oil can get trapped inside hair follicles, along with dirt and dead skin cells, and produce pimples.
If you already have a skin condition like psoriasis or rosacea, stress can make it worse.
Psoriasis is a buildup of too many skin cells that form silvery, scaly patches on the body. It’s caused by inflammation, which can be fueled by stress. That’s why people with psoriasis often get flare-ups when they’re tense.
Stress is also one of the most common triggers of rosacea flare-ups. Rosacea appears as a red flush that spreads across the nose, cheeks, and chin.
Even if you have perfect skin, you might not treat it very well when you’re under stress. Stress is a distraction that can make you neglect your skin care regimen.
Your regimen should include daily washing and moisturizing, as well as eating a healthy diet.
People that are stressed out tend to develop bad habits when it comes to taking care of their skin. They may pull or rub their skin, or pop pimples. These bad habits can lead to permanent scarring.
Hives are red, swollen, itchy bumps on the skin. Some people get them as part of an allergic reaction to food, medicine, or an insect sting. Others notice hives popping up on their skin on a more regular basis.
Chronic hives may be due to an immune response, which is triggered by factors like heat, extreme exercise, or alcohol use.
Stress can also cause hives, and can make hives you already have even worse.
Stress also shows on your hands. When you’re under stress your nails can become thin and brittle.
People who are stressed are also more likely to have bad nail habits, such as biting or picking at their nails and cuticles. This can damage nails even more and possibly lead to an infection.
If you have the habit of rubbing your finger over your nails, it can eventually cause a bump or ridge to form in the middle of the nails.
Shiny, thick hair is more than just part of your image. it’s also a sign of good health. Your hair constantly goes through phases.
It grows during the anagen, or active phase, and falls out during the telogen, or resting phase. When you’re stressed, your hair stays in the resting phase longer, causing you to lose more hair.
Rarely, people who are stressed develop a condition called trichotillomania, which causes an uncontrollable urge to pull out the hair.
Just about everyone has broken out in a sweat during a stressful situation, such as a nerve-racking job interview or a difficult test.
The sweat comes from apocrine glands, which are concentrated under the skin of the armpits and groin. That’s why you may see dark stains forming under the arms of your shirt when you’re nervous.
The fluid combines with bacteria living on your skin. This is what causes an unpleasant smell.
When your skin has suffered as a result of stress, you need to treat the cause. Try fighting stress with relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, massage, meditation, and yoga.
These techniques reduce levels of the stress hormones that can lead to breakouts and flare-ups of skin conditions.
Also, see a dermatologist for treatments that will help clear your skin. When your skin improves, your mood might do the same.