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Learn How Stress Impacts Your Skin

Jan 22, 2021

In small doses, stress can be beneficial. The problem is many people struggle with chronic stress, which can have serious health consequences. In addition to increasing your risk of depression, weakening your immune system, and harming your heart, chronic stress can leave its mark on your face. Here are some ways stress impacts your skin.


When stressed, your body over-produces cortisol, the fight-or-flight hormone. This is thought to trigger the release of oil from the sebaceous glands that surround your hair follicles. Excessive oil can clog your pores and lead to acne.

Bags Under the Eyes

You may develop “bags under your eyes” when swelling occurs beneath your eyelids. Stress and sleep deprivation are associated with this temporary problem, making you look older and more worn out. Sagging skin around the eyes is also more common with age as the skin naturally loses some of its elasticity.

Dry Skin

The outer layer of your skin, known as the stratum corneum, contains proteins and lipids that help keep your skin hydrated. It also acts as a barrier to protect the layers of skin beneath it. Stress has been shown to impair the stratum corneum’s barrier function, negatively affecting water retention and leading to dry skin. Stress may also slow down the skin’s ability to heal itself.


Stress affects the proteins in your skin, reducing elasticity as a result. Less elastic skin is more prone to wrinkling. Frowning, scowling, furrowing your brow, and other muscle contractions associated with stress can also contribute to wrinkles.

Psoriasis Flare-Ups

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease. Because stress is linked to the immune system, the body’s stress response can trigger a psoriasis flare-up. Increased psoriasis symptoms can lead to more stress and worsen the flare-up, beginning a vicious cycle between the body and mind.

Eczema Inflammation

Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition. Evidence shows that people with eczema have a compromised stratum corneum, which leads to water loss and allows irritants to enter. Because stress weakens this skin barrier even further, it can cause increased eczema symptoms.

Worsened Allergic Contact Dermatitis

Allergic contact dermatitis is characterized by an allergic reaction that occurs when the skin touches an allergen. People with this condition are more prone to stress rashes, which may appear when your body releases stress hormones. The resulting inflammation can make your sensitive skin even more sensitive.

Stress is an unavoidable part of life, but it doesn’t have to be chronic. To help lower your stress level, stay physically active, get enough sleep, schedule relaxation time each day, eat a healthy diet, and get help from friends, family, or a mental health expert.

Are you struggling with skin problems that are triggered by stress or other underlying causes? Arlington Dermatology would be happy to help. We treat a range of skin conditions with medical and cosmetic procedures that help you look and feel your best. Call us today at 847-392-5440 or contact us online to discuss your treatment options.