How to deal with stressed skin

AAs we navigate tough jobs, complicated schedules, and endless to-do lists, we sometimes get used to the feeling of being stressed. But just because you’ve learned to mentally deal with this stress doesn’t necessarily mean your body is convinced, explains Sharleen St. Surin-Lord, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Washington, DC. And often the effects are written all over the face.

“If you have a stressful job, or you always have deadlines, or you travel a lot, you’ve learned how to deal with stress. However, your body will always talk to you, and your skin will always tell you.” says Dr. St Surin-Lord, who practices integrative dermatology. She often has patients who say they “don’t feel stressed,” but once she digs a little deeper, she learns their job is very demanding, they don’t sleep well, and it’s hard to keep up with their kids’ schedules. . “I’ll say, ‘So you’re under stress. You’ve learned to deal with it and cope, but the fact that your seborrheic dermatitis is so bad that you have a blizzard on your shoulders with flakes tells me you’re under stress,'” he says. she.

Stress causes a surge of hormones (namely adrenaline and cortisol), which trigger inflammation in the body. So if you already deal with inflammatory conditions like acne, eczema, psoriasis, or seborrheic dermatitis, stress can cause them to flare. You may also notice problems you don’t normally deal with, such as hives.

If you experience these problems, the treatment is twofold. First, you need to see your doctor to address what is going on with your skin. “If you’re someone whose skin is breaking out, your eczema is getting worse, or your psoriasis is getting worse because of stress, you’ll need some medication, like topical steroid creams or lotions,” says Dr. St. Surin-Lord. . “If you find yourself getting hives every other day or every day, you may need to take an antihistamine… And I recommend seeing an allergist to see how to calm that down as well.”

Beyond treating the symptoms, you need to get to the heart of the problem and manage the stress. “If that stressor is still there and you take the [medication] after two weeks it will sprout again,” says Dr. St Surin-Lord.

She suggests looking for activities, like walking and meditating, that help bring you joy. In extreme cases, she has even had patients fill out Family and Medical Leave Act forms so they can take a few weeks off work to heal their skin. “And let me tell you: after two weeks off, her skin was clear,” she says.

If your skin is acting up, take a step back and take stock of your stressors. Managing stress is very it’s different than just learning how to deal with it, and you have to take the time to figure it out first to properly heal aggravated skin.

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