Is Skin Health Related to Stress?

stress woman at work computer

Does stress affect skin health? All arrows point to yes. Stress and skincare are found to be closely related. Like stress and its effect on the body’s overall health, sometimes the word stress itself can create more stress! As we approach one of the most joyful but also stressful times of the year, keep an eye on your skin’s health. Changes in the skin may be an indicator of high stress. Although every day has its portion of stress, and not all stress is bad, being aware of how chronic stress can negatively affect our bodies and skin is a good idea.

Stress Can Have Negative Effects on Health and Skin

Like how chronic stress can adversely affect the body, it can also reveal itself through the skin. Stress becomes a cycle, and skin conditions can create additional stress that can worsen a situation. It is highly recommended to visit a dermatologist when you start having skin concerns that might be triggered by stress.

Acne is one of the most common skincare concerns that land people in a dermatology office. Acne can be tied to stress levels. Research is finding that even in teens, where acne is more typical, the stress of acne can create worse acne skin problems in teens. Teenage-prone skin does have to do with the body’s changing hormone levels, but life’s stressors can also cause acne outbreaks and flare-ups.

Not All Stress Is Bad

Whether you believe it or not, some stress is good. There are stages of stress, and they are part of the human body’s ability to survive and adapt. Stress triggers our body’s mechanics used in adaptation when threats are present. Scientists believe our bodies respond to stress in three stages, and the first stage is the alarm stage.

The Three Stages of Stress

Stage of Stress: Alarm

In the alarm stage, our fight or flight responses kick in, and adrenaline pumps freely. This is the stage of stress where you hear heroic stories of supernatural strength helping someone in need. In this case, stress and adrenaline surge is helpful.

Stage of Stress: Resistance

The second stage is resistance, and this is where the body releases hormones to keep the body able to fight. This is considered the sustainable stage of battling stress. Resistance is also called the adaptation stage.

Stage of Stress: Exhaustion

This is the danger stage of stress. It is dangerous to stay in this stage of stress for extended times because our bodies exert all their energy and hormones to fight, and when they stop, the body becomes exhausted. Weakened immune systems leave the body and skin vulnerable to disease. This is a stage of chronic stress.

Most people can pinpoint at least once in their lives when they were stressed, which is almost always the alarm stage. After the initial stress response, the other two stages are more challenging to identify. Unfortunately, the body may suffer internal damage in the last two stages of stress. Immune systems become compromised, and inflammation shows up on the skin. Inflammation is one of the primary triggers for skin issues, and that is why dermatologists advise modifying diet to anti-inflammatory foods and may prescribe a supplement to help inflammation. However, it is best to identify the source of the inflammation, and stress is shown to be a cause.

Stress affects our digestive systems, hearts, and our skin. The skin is the body’s barrier against germs and infections, so the body is more susceptible to infections and disease through the skin’s surface when defenses are down. Common skin issues related to stress include acne, rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis. The skin may also seem dull and lackluster, which can be an indication of a weakened immune system.

Skin Conditions That May Be Caused by Stress


Acne is a typical flare-up during prolonged stages of stress. When the body releases cortisol during stress, the skin produces extra oil, and the skin’s barrier is more vulnerable. Although many acne cases can be treated with antibacterial cleansers, visiting a professional dermatologist with experience working with clients suffering from stress-related acne.

Eczema and Psoriasis

Eczema and psoriasis are other common skin reactions caused by prolonged and heightened stress. Both conditions may cause rashes and itchy areas. A licensed dermatologist should check out psoriasis because it can be associated with other health problems. Some topical treatments are available for psoriasis, but if there is a more profound health concern, that can be determined through a dermatology exam.


Rosacea is one of the most common reasons people visit excellent dermatologists. Rosacea can often flare up during stress. Skin can become highly sensitive and inflamed with irritation and discomfort.

Many factors contribute to our skin’s overall health. Of course, environmental challenges, as well as hereditary skin conditions, along with diet, affect the skin’s health. As more research becomes available relating to stress and its effect on the body’s surface, managing stress becomes more significant. Health coverage now includes preventative skin cancer screenings and should be taken seriously so any signs can be addressed early. Some skin cancer patients experience relief from skin cancer when stress levels dissipate.

You may see signs of stress in your skin’s condition when going through a stressful time. If you notice changing skin appearance, please do not hesitate, and contact a professional and licensed dermatologist in your area. If you live in Atlanta, visit Buckhead Dermatology, which has more than three decades of experience helping clients of all skin colors and specializes in darker skin tones. Finding ways to deal with stress in your life will always benefit your body’s mental and physical condition, including your skin. Find something that helps, like exercise, meditation, or other stress-relieving activity. Take care of yourself, which will show in your skin’s appearance!