Hair, Skin & Nails 4 MIN READ 175 VIEWS October 3, 2022

Stress Effects on Skin: What to Watch Out For?

Written By HealthKart
Medically Reviewed By Dr. Aarti Nehra

Stress Effects on Skin

Stress can leave various marks on your face at times. You may wonder how? Research studies show that human skin has the capability to recognize stress and respond accordingly. Let’s put it in a simpler way! Wherever you encounter any stressful event, the immune system of the body releases different stress hormones, namely adrenaline and cortisol as a reaction and it induces inflammation in the brain. Now, this is a single-time case. If your brain goes through constant stress, the inflammatory response then leads to external skin outbreaks. Let’s get a deeper look at the stress effects on skin. 

Stress Effects On Skin - did you know?

Effects of Stress on Your Face 

Your mental state has a great impact on your skin. If you’re at peace, your skin seems to look and feel healthier but on the contrary, when you’re stressed about something, dullness and other issues may take over.  Let’s find out what common stress effects on skin:

1. Acne

The hormone cortisol is secreted by our body when we feel stressed. This hormone in turn directs the sebaceous glands to secrete more oil around the hair follicles. Excess effects of stress lead to abnormal secretion of cortisol hormone, which stimulates the excess sebum/oil production resulting in the clogging of pores around the hair follicle. The following condition leads to acne. 

Incrementing stress is always found proportional to the greater formation of acne. The severity of acne is predominant if you are addicted to alcohol, take up a lot of stress at work, and allot yourself fewer hours of sleep. Stress level is comparatively found to be higher in people aged 20-30.

2. Wrinkles

Collagen along with elastic fibres keeps the skin firm. The collagen production decreases gradually with age but stress can act as a catalyst to fasten the process of premature ageing as it reduces the amount of collagen production. Chronic stress is also associated with increased inflammation which can eventually cause collagen to lose its flexibility. Hence, the fibre gets stiffened. Collagen degradation causes the wound and the skin to lose their repairing capability.

The different stress effects on skin also include a reduction in its elasticity. The skin cells have some definite measures of protein count which are altered because of stress increment. The sudden alterations and elasticity loss often lead to wrinkle formation on facial skin. Besides, stress helps to secrete excessive cortisol which harms elastin and collagen. As a result, wrinkles appear. 

The more you stress out, the greater you harm your skin. Thinning of fibres results in the inability of the skin cells to maintain the texture, hold moisture and essential proteins. Therefore, the skin becomes nutrient deficient and shrinks.

3. Rashes

Sometimes, you wonder how some emotional feeling of grief, anguish, or overwork can seriously impact your health. Skin is an important part of your body that is sensitive to such feelings. As known by the name itself, stress rash is one of the most common symptoms among all. 

If you are unlucky and are having underlying skin conditions like allergies, rosacea, or eczema, you have a higher chance of developing skin rashes. As you feel stressed, at the same time, the body releases specific chemicals responsible for the cause of inflammation. It makes your skin sensitive. 

If you are not acquainted with what stress rashes look like, then you will recognize them by seeing red raised bumps. These are known as hives and can grow on any part of the body. Stress rash ranges from small dot-shaped structures to large bumps or small dots in clusters. They are sometimes itchy, cause a burning sensation, and can be painful.

4. Dry Skin

If you feel your skin is much drier than usual, then the reason behind may be associated with things beyond our vision. You may wonder “how?” The outer layer of your skin is commonly known as the stratum corneum. It typically consists of lipids and proteins that play a significant role in maintaining its integrity. 

It keeps the skin cells hydrated. It also plays the role of a barrier protecting underneath the skin. If you start feeling itchy and dryness in your skin, it means your stratum corneum has started getting affected.

According to research, stress impacts the stratum corneum. There may be another reason for the drying of your skin. Under stressed conditions, the level of cortisol and adrenaline in your body rises. Cortisol decreases the production of hyaluronic acid which affects the skin’s ability to store water. This further obstructs your skin from staying hydrated.

Stress Effects On Skin - expert's tip


Stress is a very common condition that everyone undergoes at some point in their life. Considering stress to be only a mental cause is a myth. There are things much beyond it. Stress affects your entire body, including your skin. The different effects of stress on skin are redness/ itching, frequent acne breakouts, exacerbation of skin diseases, and premature ageing. 

Stress should not be taken lightly by considering it as a mere thing. Stress shows up on the face in various ways. Generally, stress impacts the skin by secreting different hormones from time to time. Lastly, both chronic and acute stress are serious issues to be taken care of.

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