At one time, the link between stress and beauty problems like acne was considered mythical. But now, even dermatologists like Flor A. Mayoral, MD who serves as a clinical instructor at the University of Miami, can no longer deny the connection between stress and cosmetic problems.
Just recently, Dr. Mayoral told collections at a American Academy of Dermatology's SKIN academy that dermatologist have, "… [K] nown for years – that psychological stress adversely affects the normal functions of the skin."
Those functions include hair and nail growth, along with skin flare-ups like pimples and rashes.
Controlling stress induced acne
Stress can provoke acne in a variety of ways. For example, as an individual experiences stress, the level of the body's stress hormone (cortisol) increases. This hormonal change causes an increase in oil production, which can lead to oily skin, acne and similar skin problems.
Dr. Mayoral adds that even patients with skin not normally affected by acne can experience temporary stress-related acne due to increased oil production.
So how can you stop stressed provoked acne? Dr. Mayoral comments, "Being in control of your situation can help relieve stress." To help patients better manage acne outbreaks under duress, Dr. Mayoral recommends that they "safely" use their acne medication more frequently to counter the effects of stress.
If acne drugs are not an option, acne sufferers can apply a clay mask during stressful times to reduce the effect of excess oil production.
Do not let your hair fall out
Dr. Mayoral suspects that stress may be the primary reason for unexplained hair loss. During stressful times, the hair can go into the telogen (fall-out) phase. In fact an event called "telogen effluvium" is a hair loss problem that can happen up to three months after a stressful situation. However, after this spontaneous loss, the hair typically grows back in six to nine months.
That phenomenon gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, "Stressed today, bald tomorrow."
Beside stress, Dr. Mayoral explains that life-changing events such as childbirth or surgery also can cause hair loss. At moments like these, the body takes a "time-out" from growing hair to concentrate on recovery and healing. Meanwhile, hair does not grow as much and some could shed and not grow back right away.
Bumps in the nails
Biting one's nails is an ostentatious sign of nervousness. Dr. Mayoral discusses a more subtle way of ruining the nails. When you rub your fingers over the thumb nail, this can create a ridge across the nail. The rubbing action distorts the nail plate, and when the nail grows, a raised ridge forms in the middle of the nail.
Including rubbing and biting nails, physical or emotional stress; certain diseases; and chemotherapy can cause white horizontal lines to appear across the nails. Brittle, peeling nails can also accompany stress.
Dr. Mayoral offers these tips to cure the effects of stress both internally and externally:
Stress sufferers can also seek help from self-care books, support groups, friends and counselors. But the key to preventing stress from ruining your image is to recognize the root cause of your stress. From there, finding a solution to your aesthetic ills becomes easier.
American Academy of Dermatology. (2007, November 8). Feeling Stressed? Dermatologists Can Help Manage the Effects of Stress on the Skin, Hair and Nails. Newswise .