Not only chemicals, exhaust fumes and too much alcohol, but also emotional stress can damage the skin: Why is this so and what helps against it?
Skin as a protective shield
Our skin not only perceives pain and touch, but is also the Protective cover of our body. The uppermost layer of skin consists of the so-called acid mantle, a chemical barrier consisting of secretions from the sweat and sebaceous glands. Bactericides serve here for example to defend against harmful microorganisms, while skin protects its own fatty acids from drying out.
Skin rash from stress? Causes and symptoms
Despite this protective function, our skin is exposed to high levels of stress every day. Harmful substances in cosmetic products, fine dust and dry heating air demand a lot from the skin. However stressed skin cannot be attributed solely to environmental influences. Also emotional stress damages our skin.
In addition to premature skin aging, excessive strain can cause skin rashes. In people with skin diseases such as Neurodermatitis or urticaria (hives) emotional stress can also exacerbate the symptoms.
Stress weakens the immune system
Chronic stress causes the body's hormone balance to be disrupted. The stress hormone cortisol puts our brain on alert. In this way, all the body's energy reserves are tapped in the short term and the immune system runs at full speed. If a relaxation phase follows, the body's immune function also diminishes and the effect of the natural protective barrier decreases. Bacteria and viruses then have an easy time on the skin. This can result in Acne, Herpes or itchy rash arise.
Stress as a trigger for hives, psoriasis and neurodermatitis
Especially for people suffering from skin diseases such as hives (urticaria), psoriasis or neurodermatitis, emotional stress is a trigger that can lead to Skin irritation and itchy skin rashes. The research area of the Psychodermatology deals with the development of skin diseases in connection with psychological factors.
- At Hives (also: urticaria), reddened, itchy wheals occur more frequently during emotional stress. The so-called mast cells on the skin are then responsible for this. They are a component of the peripheral nervous system and under stress they produce increased amounts of Histamine This neurotransmitter acts as a messenger and sends information of the corresponding "stress signals" to our brain. If the histamine is not broken down quickly enough, itchy hives develop.
- Episodes of genetically determined Psoriasis could also be related to emotional stress. Medical experts have already been able to establish a direct link between stress and episodes of psoriasis. However, the effect of stress on the development of psoriasis is still largely unknown.
- Also with Neurodermatitis there is a suspicion emotional strain could exacerbate the symptoms. In a study conducted by the Medical University of Hannover, the effects of stress on neurodermatitis were investigated. When examining people with neurodermatitis, doctors found that psychological stress leads to an increased concentration of white blood cells (lymphocytes) and immune messenger substances (cyctoins), which can cause inflammation.
Stress hormones such as cortisol promote sebum production in the skin. Sebum consists of fatty acids which ensure that the skin does not crack and become brittle. However, in cases of excessive sebum production, for example due to stress, individual engorge sebaceous glands. If the sebum can no longer drain off, bacteria form under the skin surface, leading to inflammation and acne.
In addition to the weakened immune function of the skin, our hands also contribute during stressful phases to Pimples and skin infections arise. Anyone who frequently touches their face during stress exposes the skin to numerous bacteria with every touch. Pimples and acne follow.
Dry skin and premature skin aging
When under stress the body sends out alarm signals and puts itself into a kind of "escape and fight mode". Energy and oxygen reach exactly where the body needs them in a dangerous situation - in the muscles. Other parts of the body, however, such as the skin, are undersupplied in the meantime. Damaging oxidants and free radicals then have an easy time: the skin dries out and wrinkles form more quickly.
Skin rash and pimples caused by stress - that helps:
Basically the following applies: If skin diseases such as hives, psoriasis or neurodermatitis are suspected, as well as severe acne, it is advisable to have a Family doctor to visit. Although experts emphasize that stress management and special forms of psychotherapy contribute to an improvement of the clinical picture, the symptoms only really subside when special active substances or antibiotics are used.
Anyone who thinks acute stress could be the trigger for skin irritations, but can specifically Dermatologists who are specialized in the field of Psychodermatologie are specialized.
If you are prone to slight skin irritation under stress, the following will help Rules for daily facial care:
- Focus on natural cosmetics: Many cosmetics contain harmful substances that improve the skin's appearance in the short term but damage it in the long term. We will show you which ingredients these are here.
- Gentle massages with natural, cold-pressed oil: For those who tend to dry and itchy skin under stress, massages with natural oils can help. Jojoba oil, for example, combines optimally with the fatty acids on the skin without clogging pores and sebaceous glands. With its antibacterial properties, it also ensures that harmful bacteria on the surface of the skin do not take over. It is important that the oil is cold-pressed and contains no other ingredients.
- Clean towels: Even on towels, numerous bacteria that damage our skin are already cavorting after 2-3 days. Experts therefore recommend changing towels for facial care at best daily. Even those who wash pillowcases and sheets regularly can reduce skin problems. Important: To ensure that all bacteria disappear, wash the textiles to at least 60 degrees. Special detergents for sensitive skin help to prevent skin irritation caused by aggressive cleaning agents.
Text: Natalie Grolig
- Abel-Wanek, Ulrike: Interplay of body and soul. In: Pharmaceutical Newspaper, 26.06.2018 / Access on 31 December 2019
- Heller M, Lee S, Koo J: Stress as an influencing factor in psoriasis. In: Skin Therapy Letter, 2011;16 (5) / Access on 31 December 2019
- Sonnenmoser, Marion: skin diseases. Interaction between skin and psyche. In: Medical Journal PP 1, November 2002 edition, page 501 / access on 31 December 2019.