I recently heard someone use the term, emotional roller coaster of life, and I thought..."It's so true!!" Well that roller coaster can wreak havoc on your body and your mood and it can leave a lasting impact on the very parts of your body that should bring you much pride. Anything that creates stress, depression, anxiety can cause problems in those body parts, namely hair, skin, nails. The American Academy of Dermatology's SKIN Academy recently convened and discussed this very topic.
Dermatologists recognize that when you have a rough patch in your life, those negative emotions can really impact your appearance. And if the problems caused are things like inflamed skin, acne, brittle nails, thinning hair - your anxiety can be triggered even further. So while dermatologists are there to help with the physical manifestations, they need to connect the dotted line so the patient understands the underlying cause. It's called Psychodermatology and it means an intervention on two levels.
So dermatologists need to help patients understand exactly what stress can do to their appearance. Stress can cause rosacea or make it worse. Stress can cause acne lesions that become inflamed and more resistant to treatment. Stress can cause nails to become brittle or to develop ridges. Stress can cause hair loss, worsen hives and cause excessive sweating (which can inflame hair follicles). Stress is also a trigger for fever blisters (cold sores), psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis and can even impair skin barrier function - meaning skin dehydrates and is more vulnerable to irritants, allergens and infectious agents. To bottom line it - stress skin appears older.
The dermatologist can explain all these connections to the patient and also make sure that another culprit - abandoning good skin care because you are stressed - is not making the situation worse. The doctor should also check on other habits like stress eating (which tends to involve highly processed foods, sugar-laden and high fat foods), water intake, exercise and sleep. Bad grades in these areas can also be making skin, nails and hair condition suffer.
Ultimately the dermatologist can put you on specific regimens that help your appearance to improve. But if the stress persists, it can undo the positive healing impact all of the creams, lotions, potions and even drugs. You may have to seek therapy if the stress is not alleviated and becomes a chronic condition so you don't sacrifice your delicate skin, lustrous hair or beautiful nails!!
Published On: November 16, 2008