This Is Your Skin on Stress

Stress comes and goes as a normal part of our lives. But if it becomes a chronic issue that doesn’t let up, stress can wreak havoc on your body and skin in a number of ways. If you’re struggling to manage these common skin conditions, chronic stress could be at least partially to blame.

Here’s how stress affects your skin and what you can do to reduce stress and anxiety to be on the path toward getting a clearer, healthier complexion.


When you’re stressed out, your body releases cortisol, known as the “stress hormone.” While cortisol plays an important role in helping your body respond to stress, it also comes along with a variety of unwanted effects, especially when you are under chronic stress.

One way cortisol affects your skin is by boosting its production of sebum, or oil. Excess oil on your skin can become trapped inside pores, leading to acne breakouts. Additionally, the inflammation that comes along with stress can contribute to acne and may leave you trapped in a cycle of breakout after breakout if stress is not managed.


Underlying inflammation, genetics, and other factors contribute to rosacea, a common skin condition characterized by redness, visible blood vessels, and itching. Because stress causes inflammation throughout your body, it can cause a flare-up of rosacea symptoms.

Work with your dermatologist or other skincare professional to create a rosacea management plan that pairs lifestyle changes such as stress management with other appropriate treatment options.


Lines and wrinkles show up on your skin over time, as the number of collagen and elastin proteins in your skin gradually decrease. However, chronic stress accelerates this natural aging process, as raised cortisol levels break down collagen and elastin proteins at a faster rate than normal.

Additionally, chronic stress has been linked with prematurely shortened telomeres, the protective caps at the ends of DNA strands. When telomeres become too short, the affected cell dies and may become pro-inflammatory. This results in accelerated aging.

Dry Skin

Although stress can cause excess oil production, it can also lead to dry, itchy, and flaky skin by increasing inflammation and disrupting the delicate balance of microorganisms that inhabit your skin, called the microbiome. Together, these effects can cause your skin’s protective barrier to become impaired, preventing it from effectively retaining moisture and keeping allergens locked out.

Some people may also experience rashes or flare-ups of dry skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis as a result of chronic stress.

Tips for Managing Stress and Anxiety

The good news is that if you think chronic stress could be contributing to your skin problems, there are plenty of fairly quick and easy ways to manage stress and improve your complexion:

  • Meditate, do yoga, or perform breathing exercises regularly to help calm stress and ground yourself.
  • Prioritize your mental and physical health by making time for regular exercise, healthy meals, and adequate sleep.
  • Treat yourself to a relaxing massage, facial, or other calming activity.
  • Talk to a professional about how to better manage stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions.

If you are looking for more information or want to schedule a complimentary consultation at our Boca Raton & Fort Lauderdale located click here, or call 561-486-9339.