Stress, and its effect on the skin – Maryam Zamani M.D.

April is Stress awareness month.

Stress Awareness Month has been held every April, since 1992 to increase public awareness about both the causes and cures for our modern stress epidemic. Despite this running for 29 years we have got a long way to go.

According to the Mental health Foundation 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed, or unable to cope.

Millions of us around the UK are experiencing high levels of stress and it is damaging our health. Stress is one of the great public health challenges of our time, but it still isn’t being taken as seriously as physical health concerns.

Stress is a significant factor in mental health problems including anxiety and depression. It is also linked to physical health problems like heart disease, problems with our immune system, insomnia, digestive problems and skin health.


How does stress effect my skin?

Stress causes a chemical response in your body that makes skin more sensitive and reactive. It can also make it harder for skin problems to heal.

If you have you ever noticed that you break out more when you’re stressed, this is because stress causes your body to make hormones like cortisol, which tells glands in your skin to make more oil.


Stress can also:

Make skin problems worse. For example, stress can aggravate psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema. It can also cause hives and other types of skin rashes and trigger a flare-up of fever blisters.

Interfere with daily skin care. If you’re stressed, you might skip parts of your routine, which can aggravate skin issues.

It can also be stressful to have problems with your skin. Some people feel so bad about how it looks that they keep to themselves, which adds more stress.


Does stress age me?

Dr Zamani is an advocate of looking at things holistically and states that our environments can absolutely cause premature ageing. “Smoking, UV exposure, lack of sleep and high stress levels as well as not eating well will all accelerates the breakdown of collagen or impede new collagen production. Stress increases cortisol in the body.

But, we can only try our best!

I recommend starting a good skin routine in your early 20s but make it simple so that you can continue with it.”


What tips would Dr Zamani offer to those who want to have a flawless skin without the intervention of non-surgical treatments?

“Prevention is key! Sunscreen all day every day. Excellent skincare including vitamin C, retinol and antioxidants. Good nutrition, sleep, exercise and stress management.

Good skin is a result of intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Genetics, including skin type is something we cannot control. It is thought however that only a small percent of ageing factors have a genetic background. Moreover, there are a host of things we can control.

For instance, good diet/hydration, sleep, exercise, maintaining low stress levels, social (smoking/drinking/drug abuse), and of course skincare.

I personally am a big fan of eating our nutrients rather than using oral supplements but if you cannot manage a wholesome diet filled with fruits, veggies, and healthy fats, then supplements can be helpful.

Sleeping well is very important to the skins natural ability to restore itself. Beauty sleep is not a myth!

Exercise can help eliminate toxins from the body, improve circulation and decrease stress levels. Smoking is one of the fastest ways to age the skin, drinking can decrease circulation and increase puffiness, disrupt sleep and dehydrate the skin.

And skincare is important. Protection from harmful UVA and UVB rays are critical with SPF daily, rain or shine. Skincare is important to help reveal, enhance and protect the skin. I recommend everyone to exfoliate twice a week, use antioxidants and protect the skin from UV every day.”

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