Psoriasis was found to be influenced by stress and linked to itchy skin, hyperhidrosis, and flaky patches on scalp. The percentage of psoriasis patients who believe that stress affects their skin is quite high – between 37 and 87 percent. Stress may worsen psoriasis and even lengthen the time for the disease to clear.
A study was conducted by the researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University. The scientists found that elevated stress levels were associated with more skin complaints from undergraduate students.
Corresponding author Gil Yosopovitch said, “Previous studies have demonstrated an association between stress and skin symptoms, but those studies relied on small patient samples, did not use standardized tools, are anecdotal in nature, or focused their analyses on a single skin disease.”
Other studies have also linked stress to skin conditions, including atopic dermatitis, acne vulgaris, and chronic urticaria.
For the Temple University study, researchers collected questionnaires from 422 students. Respondents were placed in one of three categories: Low stress, moderate stress, and high stress. The high stress group had greater complaints of itchy skin, hair loss, oily, waxy, or flaky patches on the scalp, excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis), scaly skin, nail biting, hair pulling, and itchy rashes on their hands, in comparison to the low stress group. On the other hand, no association was found between high stress and pimples, warts or other facial rashes.
Dr. Yosopovitch explained, “Our findings highlight the need for health care/dermatology providers to ask these patients about their perceived levels of psychological stress. Disease flare or exacerbation while on treatment in the setting of increased stress may not necessarily reflect treatment failure. These findings further suggest that non-pharmacologic therapeutic interventions should be considered for patients presenting with both skin conditions and heightened levels of psychological stress.”
How stress can affect your skin
Stress has been linked to negative health outcomes, so it’s of no surprise that it can wreak havoc on your skin. Here are eight ways in which stress affects your skin.
- Itchy, ugly rashes: A study of students revealed that during the exam period, which is typically associated with higher stress levels, majority of students experienced itchy rashes on their skin. Through these rashes, bacteria can enter the skin and lead to psoriasis and eczema.
- Severe acne: Researchers who looked at students during exam period noted that they developed severe acne if they were highly stressed – compared to students with lower stress levels.
- Skin cancer: A study of mice found they were more likely to develop skin cancer if they were highly stressed. Another study that looked at melanoma patients found they were more likely to have experienced a stressful event.
- Severe dermatitis: Stress can make you more susceptible to allergens. Dermatitis patients experience fewer symptoms when they are less stressed.
- Cold sores: Stress prompts immune cells to act differently, which can cause the development of cold sores.
- Frown lines: If you’re stressed you’re unhappy, which triggers frowning and can leave lifelong lines.
- Dryness: Stress reduces the lipid barrier on the skin, allowing fluids to evaporate and leading to dryness.
- Dullness: When the stress response kicks in chronically, skin cells take longer to reach the skin surface and flake off, allowing dead skin cells to build up and causing your skin to look dull.
As you can see, stress can take a negative toll on your skin, so this is just another reason why you should work on reducing your stress levels.
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