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Holiday stress is sabotaging your skin

The holidays are here and we're still in the midst of a pandemic. Coordinating technology with relatives for Zoomsgiving and managing hybrid (or virtual) school schedules are complicated enough. Now add a sudden bout of acne, an eczema flare, or a flushed face from rosacea. It's no coincidence that skin conditions crop up when life is most demanding. Stress levels can affect skin conditions - and likewise - skin conditions can affect stress levels.

So how exactly does stress mess with skin?

Stress causes the adrenal cortex to release a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol causes the skin to ramp up sebum, or oil, production. For some people, too much sebum is produced when this occurs and leads to an acne breakout.

The immune system is also impacted by stress, causing an already sensitive system to escalate its response to allergens. When that happens, hives, rashes, and redness often follow.

Anxiety caused by stress can trigger unhealthy behaviors that impact the skin. Skin picking and nail-biting may result in infection and scarring. When the holidays become too overwhelming, skincare can fall by the wayside, especially with unpredictable schedules and broken routines. That can lead to wearing makeup to bed instead of washing it off nightly. Failing to remove makeup can trap dirt in the skin, leading to pimples, collagen breakdown, and premature aging.

Drinking to cope with seasonal stress can also create skin problems. Alcohol dehydrates the skin and deprives it of key nutrients. Too much can result in a zinc deficiency, leading to dermatitis. For those with rosacea, alcohol is one of the most common flare triggers.

Reducing stress, while easier said than done, is important for skin health.

Whether it's devoting a few minutes a day to meditation (we love the Calm app), getting a little exercise, or listening to upbeat music, stress reduction is essential to healing damaged skin. However, that may not be enough for someone to look and feel their best. A DermatologistOnCall provider can help build a treatment plan that works in conjunction with stress-reducing lifestyle choices. Not only can our board-certified dermatologists help clear up stress-related skin conditions, but they're also trained to solve nail and hair issues as well. With no appointments needed, online visits are stress-free, too, leaving more time for enjoyable holiday activities. ​​​​​​