Stress and Your Skin

Stress, both psychological and physical can lead to skin problems. Stress has been found to aggravate psoriasis, rosacea and eczema as well as cause hives and rashes.  Much of this is due to elevation of the stress hormone cortisol.

Most importantly, studies have found that psychological stress decreases the skin barrier function, the most important role of skin. This leads to loss of moisture from the skin,  leading to dry, itchy skin. But also decreases the repair process and increases the potential for irritants, allergens, toxins and bacteria/fungus to penetrate the skin.  This can also cause inflammation, numbness, and itching of the skin.

Stress also affects the hair causing it to become dull, greasy, and even fall out.

It is more important than ever to use a good moisturizer with antioxidants when you are stressed.

Some tips to help deal with stress include

light exercise, such as walking,
taking time out for quiet or meditation
breathing deeply
getting more sleep
eating nutritious whole foods
laughing (watch a funny movie)
taking extra time for personal care
engage in a repetitive activity such as knitting or weeding
acknowledge that you are a body, mind, and spirit

Herbs can also bring relief for stress. Some of my favorites are lavender, rose, lemon balm, skullcap, tulsi, chamomile and hops. You can make a nice tea from lemon balm, tulsi, lavender and chamomile. Skullcap and hops may be better as a tincture. Although another nice way to ingest hops is with a cold, hoppy IPA beer.

Another way to enjoy these herbs is in the bath. Put the herbs in a muslin bag and let it soak in the tub as you run the water. You can even use the bag to wash with.

Try our lavender/rose bath salts, or botanical salt scrubs.

For more on the science, read here:

Altemus, M., Raoa, B., Dhabhar, F.S., Ding, W., Granstein, R. D., Stress Induced Changes in Skin Barrier Function in Healthy Women.  Journal of Investigative Dermatology

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