The state of our skin is affected by many different things – over-exposure to harsh uv rays, pollution, cigarette smoke, lack of water, caffeine. The list goes on.
Recent studies show that stress also affects our skin state. Although the link between the brain and the skin is not new the impact stress has on our skin is quite profound.
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia clinical psychologist Dr Alvin Ng Lai Oon said the brain-skin connection has been scientifically researched and it is not just a marketing gimmick.
“The skin has not been studied much but in the past 10 years, more has been discovered about how mental state affects skin.
“When you are stressed, the brain releases chemicals that affect the skin biology and when this changes the structure of the skin, it will result in dermatitis, eczema and acne,” he said.
Basically, what happens is stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol, for example) reduce the immune system of the skin and this imbalance reduces the skin’s ability to repair itself.
“The skin is connected to a central peripheral nervous system with ‘emotional feedback’ so basically what you feel emotionally is connected to your skin.”
Dr Razimah Hanim Abu Zarim, a graduate of Ireland’s Royal College of Surgeons who now runs Ageless Aesthetics, said while it is not conclusive that stress causes skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema, there are long-time sufferers of these conditions who report that when they are stressed, their conditions become worse.
“Stress may be a trigger and can cause many problems. If you are stressed, you don’t eat properly, have adequate sleep or drink enough water and the effects can be seen on the skin.” He said.
Stress reduces the skins immunity causing inflammatory reactions such as skin bumps and itchiness. Itchiness results in scratching which compounds the situation. We all focus on taking care of our skin but perhaps we need to take a look at controlling our stress levels as well.