Stress skin problems

The skin is the most extensive organ of our organism and shows us its anomalies with the naked eye. We invite you to learn about skin problems due to stress.

Unlike other organs and systems, The skin is shown with the naked eye. We can examine it without the use of any device and detect the changes that occur in it easily.

There is an embryological connection between the skin and the nervous system which is still present in adult life. The elevation of the so-called stress hormones causes a series of physiological changes, the result of which the skin does not come out well.

The mechanisms of stress are activated in the hypothalamus axis – pituitary gland which secretes a series of substances whose mission is to activate the production of cortisol in the adrenal glands.

The role of stress in skin problems

Stress is a defense mechanism that our body has To ensure their survival. However, when it becomes chronic, it produces a series of effects that affect the entire body and produce skin problems, such as:

  • Loss of elasticity
  • Wrinkles.
  • Flaccidity.
  • Skin off.
  • Stains.
  • Some diseases of greater importance and importance.

Skin problems caused by chronic stress have to do with blood circulation. In these situations, the body needs a quick response to implement strategies of struggle, flight and paralysis. To do this, at the orders of cortisol, it redirects the blood flow to the muscles, the heart, the lungs and the brain, and the great victim of that cut in the influx of blood, among others, is the skin.

Stress negatively affects the immune system and makes our skin more vulnerable to infections and also to tumors, since immune surveillance processes are slowed or interrupted.

Also read: Weakened immune system. How to realize?

Cortisol and stress skin problems

The skin in situations of stress is pale and dull, with lack of vitality. That lack of blood flow is the cause of skin problems caused by stress. Cortisol releases energy in the form of sugars that produce waste metabolites, the so-called free radicals.

Free radicals are responsible for the appearance of wrinkles, expression lines and pimples, in addition to thinning the skin and giving it off.

One of the skin problems due to stress is premature aging. This is due to several consequences of cortisol that are added to the above:

  • Cortisol decreases the collagen production, affecting the flexibility of the skin and favoring the appearance of wrinkles.
  • Melatonin synthesis decreases, which is the hormone that regulates sleep, preventing the nocturnal regeneration of skin cells.

As for the emotional manifestations that generate stress skin problems, we have to mention wrinkles of expression. They say that "the face is the mirror of the soul" and, therefore, the emotional causes of stress are manifested in the wrinkles of the forehead and the frown, that reflect our state of worry or discomfort.

Diseases that occur with stress skin problems

There is a group of dermatological diseases that have been directly related to stress. Among them, the most important are:


Although hormonal factors are decisive for the appearance of acne, more and more importance is given to emotional factors. It has been seen that the improvement of patients' stress through medications, therapies, yoga, meditation and others have significantly improved acne.

Discover: Acne

Atopic dermatitis

Although it can be caused by environmental factors, dehydration, irritants, infections and even sweat, around 70% of cases are closely related to stress. There is a vicious cycle between pruritus (itching) and scratching, which can become obsessive and cause worsening of dermatitis due to superinfection and the appearance of other more serious complications.

Seborrheic dermatitis

It is a disease that has been directly related to episodes of stress. Appears in times of great anxiety of patients for a change of work or address, wedding or divorce, illness or death of a family member, exams, etc.


In this case, the patient scratches his skin compulsively generating itching and scratching cycles They can last for years. It usually appears in young patients, very frequent in adolescent girls who, subject to changes due to hormonal stress, can cause serious injuries due to repeated scratching.

This problem usually improves when it comes to psychological lability, although it can last for many years due to the delay in diagnosis and ineffective treatments.

Alopecia areata

It is the loss of hair in very specific areas of the scalp, in the form of small circles such as coins. It has a genetic predisposition due to the appearance of autoimmune factors, but a high influence of emotional factors has been demonstrated.

The direct relationship of stress with autoimmune diseases is proven and it is noteworthy that, in patients with psychiatric pathology, the incidence of alopecia areata is between 30 and 90%, according to studies.

Although there are more skin problems due to stress, we have presented the ones we consider most frequent. We leave for the end one of the dermatological diseases most related to the consequences of stress: psoriasis.


Psoriasis is characterized by the acceleration of the life cycle of cells, which die early. They accumulate on the surface of the skin forming scales and red spots, producing intense itching and even pain. It is a chronic episodic disease. It may disappear for a while to reappear in circumstances that the patient relates to stressful situations.

The severity of psoriasis has been directly related to levels of stress, anxiety and depression.. Some research directly relates the intensity of pruritus and the severity of depression suffered by the patient.

All personality characteristics that make a subject susceptible to stress influences are also responsible for the appearance of psoriasis, so their relationship is very evident. Mimproving stress levels usually improves anxiety, including depression, and therefore, psoriasis outbreaks.

It is fair to mention that the appearance of psoriasis lesions produces a social rejection. The patient feels stigmatized and tends to hide them, which is another great factor of stress generation that overshadows the prognosis.

We have only seen a few examples in which stress skin problems manifest themselves. It is convenient to properly manage stress and anguish because, in addition to being able to cause depression, they weaken our immune system becoming indirectly responsible for the appearance of tumors.